Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Spitzer ID plan for immigrants under attack by the restrictionist mafia

Bad news in the NY Times this morning:

ALBANY, Oct. 22 — Spurred by overwhelming public opposition to Gov. Eliot Spitzer’s decision to allow illegal immigrants to obtain driver’s licenses, the State Senate yesterday passed legislation that would overturn the policy.

The 39-19 vote, which passed with the support of all the Republican senators present as well as several key Democrats, capped a debate laden with accusations of racism and demagoguery and warnings about terrorism and voter fraud. The vote also followed a raucous protest outside the Capitol, during which some opponents of the plan called for the governor to be recalled or impeached.

The Times once again shows its susceptibility to getting snowed by right-wing propaganda. Does Nicholas Confessore really believe that on a state-wide level, with over one-third of New York City’s residents foreign born and a position as the historical gateway to the country, there is “overwhelming public opposition” to Spitzer’s plan? Or is a more likely explanation that a relatively small but motivated core of restrictionists have again implemented their patented technique of flooding their legislators’ offices with phone calls, emails, and letters, followed by angry public protests? Confessore mentions in passing the major issues in dispute without explaining any of them: "the vote . . . capped a debate laden with accusations of racism and demagoguery and warnings about terrorism and voter fraud." That is not particularly enlightening, and unlikely to inform readers confused about the issues. This is some pretty shoddy reporting.

Frank J. Merola, the Rensselaer County clerk and one of the most vocal local officials to oppose Mr. Spitzer’s policy, appeared at the rally and later filed a lawsuit in State Supreme Court challenging the administration. Under state law, several dozen other county clerks act as agents of the D.M.V. and must process driver’s licenses on behalf of the state.

Mr. Merola and a number of other clerks, most of them, like Mr. Merola, Republicans, have said they will not obey the new policy, though state rules do not give them any discretion on the matter. Mr. Merola said that he had not consulted the county counsel about his plans to ignore the new licensing regulations.

“I don’t want him to tell me that I shouldn’t be doing it, because I’m the one who’s going to be in that office and I’m not going to do it,” Mr. Merola said. “It’s easier if I don’t ask.”

So much for the “rule of law” that features so prominently in restrictionist arguments. Rule of law for thee but not for me.

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