- The Washington Times - Friday, July 7, 2006

NEW YORK (AP) — New York’s Department of Motor Vehicles can require immigrants to prove they are in this country legally before allowing them to have driver’s licenses, a state appeals court ruled.

The 5-0 ruling Thursday by the Appellate Division in Manhattan reversed a decision by Justice Karen S. Smith, who ordered the DMV last year to stop denying driver’s licenses to immigrants who didn’t have Social Security numbers or proof they were here legally.

In dismissing the illegal aliens’ complaint, the appeals court said Justice Smith had erred in barring the identity procedures DMV Commissioner Raymond Martinez put in place and said they were “within his authority and enforceable.”

The court noted cases in which one Social Security number was used to get licenses for 57 persons and another in which one taxi driver used two numbers to get two licenses — one for insurance and the other for traffic tickets.

Foster Maer, a lawyer for the Puerto Rican Legal Defense and Education Fund, which represented the plaintiffs, said his group was considering an appeal.

The DMV began lifting the licenses of illegal aliens in 2004, a move that advocates said would cost as many as 300,000 people their driving privileges.

The plaintiffs in the case had argued that their constitutional rights were being violated.

State officials defended the identity procedures as an effort to combat fraud and terrorism.

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