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Posted at 1:43 PM ET, 01/18/2011

Need a Social Security number to drive? Maybe not in D.C.

By Tim Craig

Two D.C. Council members have introduced a bill to allow drivers' licenses to be issued to residents who cannot provide a Social Security number, which could make it easier for undocumented immigrants to get around the city.

The bill, sponsored by Council members Phil Mendelson (D-At large) and Jim Graham (D-Ward 1), could reopen the debate over illegal immigration in a city long known for its lenient policies on the issue. But the bill, which failed to draw any co-sponsors, could face an uphill struggle to win approval in the 13-member body.

Currently, according to Mendelson, the Department of Motor Vehicles requires an applicant for a drivers license to supply a Social Security number. Under his legislation, Mendelson said the DMV could still ask for it, but would not be allowed to deny an application for a license if someone fails to provide one.

Mendelson said the legislation was spurred by one of his constituents, who he says is a legal resident who does not have or want a Social Security number.

"I have a guy who comes into my office who doesn't want a Social Security number for whatever reason," Mendelson said. "There are a number of people who don't have Social Security numbers."

But when pressed by a reporter, Mendelson and Graham concede the bill could also force the District into the national debate over illegal immigration. They argue their proposal would bring out of the shadows undocumented immigrants who are already driving on District streets.

"Immigration laws should be enforced by the federal government," Mendelson said. "If in fact someone is here illegally and the federal government hasn't figured that out, I don't want them driving without a drivers license."

Graham, who represents several neighborhoods with high concentrations of Hispanic residents, said the legislation would "facilitate" the granting of drivers licenses to undocumented immigrants.

"Very often, they are driving without drivers licenses," Graham said. "There are downsides that very much could occur if someone is driving without a license."

The bill was referred to the Committee on Public Works and Transportation. Council member Mary M. Cheh (D-Ward 3), appeared skeptical of the legislation. "I'd have to learn a lot more," she said.

Even if the bill is approved and signed into law by Mayor Vincent C. Gray (D), it would likely become an issue for the new Republican-controlled U.S. House of Representatives, which would have an opportunity to try to block it from taking effect.

By Tim Craig  | January 18, 2011; 1:43 PM ET
Categories:  Columbia Heights, D.C. Council, D.C. Democrats & Republicans, Jim Graham, Tim Craig  
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Comments

NO. Let them take the steps to become legal citizens first, then they are welcome to a license.

Posted by: HappyArmyWife | January 18, 2011 2:44 PM | Report abuse

Wow !!! Looks like D.C. Council really wants to play their hand with this Repubican controlled congress.

Posted by: PracticalIndependent | January 18, 2011 2:44 PM | Report abuse

No.

Posted by: jckdoors | January 18, 2011 2:45 PM | Report abuse

Is DC intending to participate in the real id program that is supposed to be done by May 2011 with some parts coming online later (having to do with digitalized birth certificates and intergrating them with all states / territories.)

Presuming this is the case since it would make no sense to leave out the capitol from this law that is supposed to make us safer after 9 11; this does not work with real id law since everyone has to have a ssn.

Why doesnt this legal resident have an ssn? Do they know for a fact he is here legally?

Posted by: jmfay | January 18, 2011 2:49 PM | Report abuse

Being a legal immigrant, I don't see how this is fair. People who are here illegally should not be able to get a drivers licence without a social security number. I had to go through a lot to stay here legally and I say let them legalize their stay first. That is all.

Posted by: eunicedelrosario | January 18, 2011 2:49 PM | Report abuse

Kinda stupid to expect any progress with home rule if this is the type of stuff comming out of the DC Council!

Posted by: soccerhead | January 18, 2011 2:55 PM | Report abuse

I have been a resident of the district for more than 30 years. I live in a so called upscale neighborhood - foggy Bottom. If you look at the number of street signs that are so faded one cannot read them, if you look at the number of pavements that are in need of replacement, if you look at the number of buses that are illegally park every day for hours spewing forth diesel smoke, and on and on, you would think that I am living in an disadvantaged neighborhood. I am tired of DC council members grandstanding and am hoping that one day they will actually concern them with improving the quality of life for citizens of the District of Columbia. In truth, I expect them to pursue their own agendas and stick it to the citizens of the District of Columbia which is the way it has always been.

Posted by: jeffreed | January 18, 2011 3:12 PM | Report abuse

Look, I don't share in the illegal immigrant hysteria. But, why do they even NEED licenses to 'get around' in cars in a city this size with METRO readily available? I'm surprised Tommy Wells isn't also part of this far-left, proposal.

Posted by: case50 | January 18, 2011 3:27 PM | Report abuse

Section 274 of Immigration and Naturalization Act makes it a crime, punishable by fine and/or jail time , to knowingly assist or provide in giving transportation to an illegal immigrant. This proposal once again makes a mockery of Federal law. It even makes it worse that our Capitol city would openly flaunt their disdain for federal laws.

Posted by: baz987 | January 18, 2011 3:40 PM | Report abuse

Revoke home rule now NOW! And I live in DC.

Posted by: Trout1 | January 18, 2011 3:43 PM | Report abuse

This is one instance where I hope Congress steps in and exerts its authority over The DC local government.

Posted by: nbreese2 | January 18, 2011 4:01 PM | Report abuse

They (illegal aliens) should not under any circumstances be given the right to drive in this country while in their current status (illegal alien). If they are arrested while driving without a license and being in this country illegaly, they should be deported.

Posted by: Robmic812 | January 18, 2011 4:06 PM | Report abuse

NO LICENSES for ANYONE who can not prove they belong here LEGALLY.

What part of ILLEGAL does DC Council members Council members Phil Mendelson (D-At large) and Jim Graham (D-Ward 1) NOT UNDERSTAND?

Or to help the DC Budget, tell the prospective license obtainer, that they can go out back to the waiting van behind the DMV building (an undercover I.C.E. bus) to get their license. That way, the city gets the license fees & we get to ship back 1 ILLEGAL IMMIGRANT Repeat as needed.

Posted by: Robbnitafl | January 18, 2011 4:20 PM | Report abuse

I hope this bill go through, because illegal aliens are humans too.

Posted by: PublicEnemy1 | January 18, 2011 4:32 PM | Report abuse

No SSN - suggests this person does not pay taxes, as to file taxes one must include their SSN. However, the DC council is not interested in legality where their voting base is at issue. That was one of the suggestions that was floated wasn't it, giving "undocumented guests" the right to vote. First step...no need for SSNs unless of course you are already legal and therefore subject to this alice in wonderland approach to life.

Posted by: alwaysamazed1 | January 18, 2011 4:34 PM | Report abuse

"Very often, they are driving without drivers licenses," Graham said.

And I assume they are also driving without insurance. Is the District going to cover them in case of an accident?

What are Mendelson and Graham smoking?

No Social Security number no problem. They then would not permit employers to demand new employee have SSNs which would mean by extension they would not have to play DC or federal taxes. Which would make the employers criminally liable for not collecting taxes.

I'm a lifelong Democrat but it's idiotic things like this which will drive me to become an Independant.

Posted by: Jimof1913 | January 18, 2011 4:41 PM | Report abuse

Certainly without a SS number it makes it easier for illegals to bypass our tax system, or to use a fraudulent or stolen SS number. I doubt that politicians are really willing to allow American citizens to 'opt out' of the social security system. Illegals shouldn't be allowed to drive, and local laws should not be allowed to provide cover from detection for illegal aliens already operating in our nation.

Posted by: edweirdness | January 18, 2011 4:51 PM | Report abuse

I have been an American citizen for over 60 years with 4 generations in this country. I've worked in the federal government, DC government and corporate America well over 40 years. In this time, I have always needed my SS# for ID purposes, even to get a bank account, rental, etc. Now the DC goverment will not require SS#s for driver's licenses. How in the hell are you going to implement this nonsense? Your SS# is your ID for everything from using credit/debit cards in supermarkets to renting, to voting. This is why DC will never have statehood and I, myself, don't blame the federal government at all for not granting us home rule.

Posted by: daughterofold | January 18, 2011 4:54 PM | Report abuse

No they should not be given licenses without a SSN. Why do we go out of our way to aid illegal activity rather than make people understand that we will not abide it

Posted by: rvs1105 | January 18, 2011 4:58 PM | Report abuse

Awww, This will pass. Why? Everybody knows this is a one-party town run by "Progressives" and "Victim Purveyers" who are reelected no matter how many pockets they've picked, how much coke they've snorted, how much corruption they've indulged in, or how many outrageous taxes, usually in the form of pounds and pounds of quarters, they've inflicted on a docile and passive electorate.

Nope, it's good for you and good for Progressives and it's humane..and it drives the Republicans wild.. so it'sll pass. So what if it makes DC the laughing stock of the nation and costs DC tax revenue....

Tough beans, voter...who are you you little snivelling voter, to stand in the way of progress.!!

Posted by: wjc1va | January 18, 2011 5:07 PM | Report abuse

This is not a good idea. ILLEGAL means these people have already broken the law. As an African-American woman who was born and raised in DC, I am disgusted at how people who don't come here legally or who overstay a temporary visa can have rights that many of us who have lived and worked here all our lives don't have. Some politicians are trying too hard to be liberal. Take care of our own citizens; that is the job, not finding ways to help crooks be more comfortable.

Posted by: westpark6712 | January 18, 2011 5:37 PM | Report abuse

Could someone give those to CM's the results from the last congressional elections. It might help em to understand the reality of our plight in New Columbia with a GOP lead Congress.

Posted by: SonofNels | January 18, 2011 5:38 PM | Report abuse

No. This is not right. I lived in another country as a permanent resident (kept my US citizenship) and had to jump through all the hoops before I earned the right to have a license to drive in that country.

Become a permanent resident, then a citizen. During and after that process, YES, get that license.

Posted by: ozyank1 | January 18, 2011 6:09 PM | Report abuse

"No SSN - suggests this person does not pay taxes, as to file taxes one must include their SSN."

The employers of undocumented workers withhold taxes anyways. But since the workers have no SSN, they can't claim a refund. And that assumes the employers pays over the withheld amounts to the IRS. The usually just pocket the cash.

Posted by: Garak | January 18, 2011 6:13 PM | Report abuse

Posted by: Jimof1913 | January 18, 2011 4:41 PM

"'Very often, they are driving without drivers licenses,' Graham said.

And I assume they are also driving without insurance. Is the District going to cover them in case of an accident?

What are Mendelson and Graham smoking?

No Social Security number no problem. They then would not permit employers to demand new employee have SSNs which would mean by extension they would not have to play DC or federal taxes. Which would make the employers criminally liable for not collecting taxes."
--------

Posted by: Garak | January 18, 2011 6:13 PM

"The employers of undocumented workers withhold taxes anyways. But since the workers have no SSN, they can't claim a refund. And that assumes the employers pays over the withheld amounts to the IRS. The usually just pocket the cash."
--------

Federal law, specifically regarding employment and Social Security, requires the collect of the time of employment. Garak is correct in the fact that the employers withhold all the appropriate taxes.

I know this, because I have to answer annually for the taxes collected on illegal immigrants who use my SSN. Google: Earning Suspense Fund. You see, "No SSN no problem" is a fact of life now. This bill, introduced by council members who are more likely looking to garner illegal votes (no pun intended) from illegal aliens, will allow those aliens to show identification at the polls.

Of course, this would be a great coup, if there were no one smart enough to understand that DC is a corrupt cesspool, politically speaking.

Jimof1913 makes a great point about insurance, to which the council memebrs will state that "now that we know who they are, we can force them to pay insurance!" What a lovely, illogical argument.

1) Illegal immigrant is driving without license
2) Council recognizes, and eliminates perceived barrier, for the benefit of all of DC
2a) Council members proclaim additional benefit for driver's license law, as they state they can now broaden the insurance pools with new illegal immigrant drivers who will suddenly stand in line for licenses
3) (And this is the very best part we always seem to forget) Illegal immigrant is STILL driving without license. Because they don't need it (as is obvious from the quoted condition by Councilmen Jim Graham above)

Those who don't obey current laws, won't obey new laws. There is no need to change the law, as there is not an onslaught of illegal immigrants being caught behind the wheel without licenses. If things are as Mr. Graham states, then either DC police are totally incompetent, or wholly corrupt; which neither are evidenced as the case here. And any change in law will not make the "bad actor" change their behavior; nor will it have any effect on the safety, real or perceived, for DC's roads.

But I am sure, for all of the "non-benefit", it will cost DC residents, and US taxpayers, a whole lot of money.

Posted by: waterloom | January 18, 2011 6:45 PM | Report abuse

If you have never read any report, immigration paper or other document on the consequences daily of the illegal immigration invasion, you must spend ten minutes to read and absorb this report from the Journal of American Physicians and Surgeons, spring 2005 http://www.jpands.org/vol10no1/cosman.pdf After reading this your probably need a vomit bag.

Now is the time in joining the Tea Party movement at http://www.theteaparty.net/ and reclaim your rights and halt once and for all illegal immigration. The switchboard number for Washington is 202-224-3121, so that you can also contact your Congressional representative In addition contact your State Congressman in your State.

Learn all there is to know about your share of illegal immigrant tax, cost, corruption, real numbers illegally settled here and the damage of overpopulation, lose of sovereignty and the travesty of the Liberal extremist "political Correctness." www.numbersusa.com and www.judicialwatch.org. We all acknowledge there is abundant need for highly skilled workers for our nation, not the penniless or uneducated of foreign government failures.

Posted by: infinity555 | January 18, 2011 7:08 PM | Report abuse

As a resident living in Ward 5 DC, I am hoping Congress will put a Control Board or replace the DC Council with 3 Commissioners to oversee DC affairs. I am a lifelong Democrat and black, but this is the type of liberal BS that makes me angry with the DC Council. I didn't vote for Mendelson because I knew this is the type of liberal BS he supports. Ms. Jim Graham the media Queen, I am not surprised by her actions either. DC residents are screwed living in this city as long as we have liberal idiots governing from the Wilson Building.

Posted by: DaddyGraceFishSandwich | January 19, 2011 12:46 AM | Report abuse

House Oversight and Government Reform Chairman Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) will announce Tuesday that Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-S.C.) will helm the subcommittee that handles District matters, giving the job to a freshman lawmaker with no record of speaking out on D.C. issues.

DC residents should call Congressman Darrell Issa office and tell him not to support this legislation or let it become law. As a DC resident, situations like this make me against Home Rule. Phil Mendelson and Jim Graham need to go. This is what you DC voters get for voting for these 2 DC Council.

Posted by: DaddyGraceFishSandwich | January 19, 2011 12:56 AM | Report abuse

Recall them.

Posted by: jmfay | January 19, 2011 9:30 AM | Report abuse

I am always amazed at the people who immediately say call Congress when they don't like a bill that has been introduced in the DC Council. Why not be rational here and realize that this bill got no co-sponsors so its chance of passage is close to nill. If anything lobby the other members of the Council against this bill or lobby the Mayor so that if it reaches his desk it will be vetoed.

Let's not get Congress involved in our business. We can make sure this bill doesn't get passed by the Council by doing the lobbying here.

Posted by: peterdc | January 19, 2011 10:04 AM | Report abuse

Graham, who represents several neighborhoods with high concentrations of Hispanic residents, said the legislation would "facilitate" the granting of drivers licenses to undocumented immigrants.

"Very often, they are driving without drivers licenses," Graham said. "There are downsides that very much could occur if someone is driving without a license."

Are you serious? Let them take the bus, or better still, go home until they can come back legally!

Posted by: HoosYourDaddy | January 19, 2011 10:19 AM | Report abuse

Graham, who represents several neighborhoods with high concentrations of Hispanic residents, said the legislation would "facilitate" the granting of drivers licenses to undocumented immigrants.

"Very often, they are driving without drivers licenses," Graham said. "There are downsides that very much could occur if someone is driving without a license."

Are you serious? Let them take the bus, or better still, go home until they can come back legally!

Posted by: HoosYourDaddy | January 19, 2011 10:20 AM | Report abuse

Please tell me this isn't true. What's next for the illegals? Both Jim Graham and Phil Mendelson will introduce legislation giving illegal aliens the right to vote in DC elections. Too much liberal progressive crap is destroying the District of Columbia. WELCOME CONTROL BOARD! I support gay marriage, but I don't support this crap for illegals. At least gays are U.S. citizens in this country and deserve the same rights as other citizens. Illegals don't deserve s&&t, but a one way ticket back to El Salvador, Mexico, or whereever.

Posted by: RockCreekPark | January 19, 2011 1:04 PM | Report abuse

DC residents need only look to the results of the Maryland governor's race. Owe'Malley won by 14.5 percent. Up until last year Maryland was handing out driver's license to ANYONE who wanted one. Seems to me things worked as planned.

Posted by: Marylandvoter1 | January 19, 2011 7:36 PM | Report abuse

Mendelson and Graham should be recalled. A Divers License without a SS is an invitation for ID thieves and terrorists. Hopefully, the rest of the Council will vote down this bill by Silly Philly.

Posted by: ObjectiveReader1 | January 19, 2011 7:50 PM | Report abuse

ID THIEVES, get a DC Drivers License.

Posted by: ObjectiveReader1 | January 19, 2011 7:52 PM | Report abuse

Good! Undocumented immigrants already pay taxes, while not even given a chance to legalize their status. And yes, you don't need a SSN to pay taxes. ITNs is all it takes, and of course, they are provided at will.

Take an example from Haitians who have recently migrated here: all come from wealthy backgrounds and are the only ones who can afford to come to the U.S. That is exactly what has driven millions of undocumented immigrants in the U.S. to immigrate for a better life. If Haitians were not on an island, they too would migrate without the required documentation. Why? Because when your life is in peril and the circumstances are less than ideal to provide for your family - that is what you do. Migration is in our inherent nature. Every country has the right to protect themselves, but cannot live limiting rights of those who violated an offense, which they themselves had been feeding off, taken advantage. And ironically, it goes against the principles of this country. The pursuit of happiness.

Posted by: pablotheexplorer | January 22, 2011 2:24 PM | Report abuse

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