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Showdown Coming on Immigrant Driver's Licenses

One of the sleeper issues of the legislative session, whether Maryland should continue to issue driver's licenses to illegal immigrants, is headed for a showdown in Annapolis in coming days.

Judicial committees in the Senate and House have passed opposing bills that are now headed for floor debates.The Senate version would require applicants for driver's licenses to verify that they are in the country legally before they can be issued one, meaning that hundreds of thousands of undocumented immigrants would no longer be able to drive legally.

The House bill, approved late Thursday, would allow undocumented immigrants who now hold licenses to keep them. But the door for new applicants would close as soon as next month, when the Motor Vehicle Administration's popular "out-of-country" system would end.

When the drivers who would be grandfathered in by the new system renew their licenses, they would be issued a new permit to drive. But the card would not allow them to board planes, enter federal buildings or cross borders. In effect, it's a two-tiered system that's favored,albeit grudgingly, by immigrant rights advocates.

Both bills comply with the federal security law known as Real ID, which requires that states issue a license akin to a national identification card to legal U.S. residents. Maryland, New Mexico, Washington state and Hawaii are the only states that still grant licenses to immigrants without papers.

Whichever bill passes the General Assembly this year--and Gov. Martin O'Malley (D) is likely to sign one into law--the lives of hundreds of thousands of immigrants will be affected. The license issue has simmered in Annapolis for several years, with Republicans pushing legal presence proposals but being largely ignored until now.

Motor vehicle officials, who are pushing to end the current system and require a lawful presence of all drivers, say they are not driven by ideology but by concern that Maryland have a secure license system that falls in line with that of 46 other states.

By Lisa Rein  |  March 26, 2009; 7:02 PM ET
Categories:  Lisa Rein  
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This bill is needed in ALL 50 states. My mother was hit by an illegal alien just a few years ago. My work truck was hit by an illegal in a geo metro.

If you are here ILLEGALLY you shouldn't get any money from anyone. No drivers license, food stamps, no jobs, etc. With unemployment as it is, we need those jobs for AMERICANS, not illegal mexicans.

Posted by: AAVp7a1 | March 26, 2009 10:06 PM | Report abuse

"Immigrants without papers", now that's a funny one. Is that the lastest Post-speak for "Illegal Aliens"?

Posted by: postisarag | March 26, 2009 10:28 PM | Report abuse

If it's not thing, it's another with these ILLEGAL ALIENS. If they don't have a right to be in this Country, why would they have a right to get a driver's license or ID card.

Now I can't say the ILLEGAL ALIENS are completely to blame for the shape of our economy, but they are a BIG part of the problem. The ILLEGAL ALIENS send BILLIONS upon BILLIONS out of this Country every year, money we will NEVER see again. Does this help our economy?

How about the BILLIONS the American taxpayers fork out for the ILLEGAL ALIEN BABIES, the schooling of them, the medical care and the list goes on, and on, and on.

How about the MILLIONS upon MILLIONS paid to jail ILLEGAL ALIENS for the crimes, then the cost to deport them. Does this help our economy?

Then you have these activist groups, the Catholic Church and the ACLU that want AMNESTY for these ILLEGAL ALIENS. It would be absolute suicide for this Country if AMNESTY were granted to the 20 million or so ILLEGAL ALIENS. We have more and more people out of work everyday and they want to add another 20 million to this Country? I say, “NO”!

If AMNESTY were ever granted to these 20 million ILLEGAL ALIENS, you can bet big money that 3 years from now, there would be ANOTHER 3-5 million ILLEGAL ALIENS demonstrating on our soil for AMNESTY.

An end MUST come to this illegal immigration. The perfect tool we have so far is E-Verify. It MUST be used by ALL businesses and Government Social Services. EVERY employee must be checked! If they are illegal, they are to be dismissed!

I believe it is time for all 50 States to pass a State law, like Arizona, Oklahoma, Mississippi, Missouri, South Carolina and a few others. It is time for these ILLEGAL ALIENS to go back to their home Country and get out of this Country. The problems they are causing will not go away until the ILLEGAL ALIENS are out of this Country. I think that is plain to see.

Is MARYLAND ready for a State Illegal Immigration Law to free the State of all the ILLEGAL ALIENS, yet? If not, WHY NOT?

Posted by: scuncic | March 27, 2009 1:50 PM | Report abuse

Lisa Rein, is again WRONG, on the subject. We all know that the WASH post doesn't want to support what is right for citizens, but this story really goes over the limit. The 2-tiered system is EXPENSIVE and will cost millions of dollars to implement. To just stop issuing driver's license to illegals have a fiscal note of ZERO. If the 2-tiered system goes into effect, it will fail just like it has failed in Tennessee and other states. There was plenty of tesitmony in Annapolis to support it. By eliminating the illegal alien from the driver's license process, we will also secure our elections. By letting those illegals who have a license keep renewing it, means they can still continue on our voter rolls. WE NEED TO CALL THE GOVERNOW NOW AND DEMAN THAT MARYLAND HAVE A SECURE DRIVERS LICENSE!!!!! If the 2-tiered system goes into effect, all citizens will have to get a passport to board planes or trains or federal buildings, as our drivers license will not comply with real-id and will NOT be accepted by other states. I say NO BILL IS BETTER THAN A BAD BILL. NO ILLEGALS WITH LICENSES IN MARYLAND.

Posted by: CitizenPayne | March 27, 2009 2:06 PM | Report abuse

The other day in Annapolis, an "offically unofficial" visit from representatives of the Department of Homeland Security to most of the members of the Maryland House Judiciary Committee in a closed-doors session that intentionally avoided the assembly of a quorum.

Unnamed sources suggest that all attending were told that there will be a bill passed, and passed soon, with an almost-immediate effective date, or Bad Things would happen that would make uncooperative persons or parties Extremely Unhappy For A Very Long Time.

See also:,0,2919406.story

Posted by: thardman | March 27, 2009 3:16 PM | Report abuse

Debate ended tonight at 9:25pm and the ammendments put on the bill HB 387 by the Judiciary Committee last night stuck to the bill. What this means is that the citizens of Maryland will be paying millions of dollars for a 2-tiered system that does NOTHING for citizens but only benefits the criminals known as illegal aliens.

The bill has now been so dramatically changed that most of the over 60 sponsors, including the lead sponsors AMENDED THEMSELVES OFF THE BILL!!!

Now, Marylanders will have the additional cost of getting a passport so that they can enter federal buildings, board a plane, etc, as well as the extra cost of a 2-tier system that will NEVER work.

There are so many citizens and taxpayers that have spent countless hours testifying, providing much data to the committies, but in the end Vallario and O'Malley will continue to pander to the illegals over the safety of citizens.

Now, not even the original sponsors of HB 387 will vote for the bill. Does anyone really believe that this isssue is about an illegal having a license to drive to a job they aren't legally allowed to work?


This is about keeping the illegal alien registered to vote!!!

Since the pilot of the plane that flew into the Pentagon on 9/11 was able to board the plane using his MD driver's license that he obtained by using an expired visa, Maryland has continued to infect the country by providing sanctuary to these fugitives from justice. . .the illegal alien.

Everyone who can read this post should flood the state house and the governor's office with calls. When NY tried this system, even Hillary Clinton came out against it.

We can still try to move the Senate Bill. . SB369 through on Monday. That is a clean bill and will deny ALL ILLEGALS from obtaining a drivers license in Maryland.

Please, everyone help us in Maryland. The key is now to convince the Senators NOT to add any tiers to SB369, and to convince the Delegates NOT to vote for HB387 on Monday.

Please call the MD legislature tomorrow, and Monday. . 301-858-3000. Call the Governor at 410-974-3901.


Posted by: CitizenPayne | March 27, 2009 10:34 PM | Report abuse

Driver's licenses are tickets into the American mainstream. They allow residents to establish an identity and foothold into their communities. They help you open bank accounts, enter secure facilities, board planes, drive tractor-trailers carrying hazardous materials, etc.

Offering drivers licenses to illegal immigrants provides legal status to individuals that have knowingly broken US laws. The Immigration and Nationality Act clearly states that illegal aliens should be deported. These long-standing laws must be upheld. Offering illegal immigrants driver's licenses clearly violates these laws and the impression that the United States is capable of enforcing them. It also undermines the notion of rewarding law abiding citizens and punishing those that break the law. Why should illegal immigrants be allowed to get away with their illegal acts. US citizens (not illegal aliens) are not afforded this luxury of forgiveness in the face of the law. Therefore, the proposition is an unwarranted and immoral concession that undermines the consistency of US law.

While some argue that US roads will be made safer with illegal immigrants in possession of drivers licenses, this is not the case. If illegal immigrants break US laws to sneak into the country, steal our identities, drive w/o a license, etc. why should they be expected to abide by driving laws and get insurance when they obtain driver's licenses.

p.s. In Mexico, the biggest source of illegal immigrants to the USA, there's no debate: If you're not in the country legally, you can't get a driver's license.

Posted by: hunter340 | April 1, 2009 11:24 AM | Report abuse

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