NY governor drops immigrant license plan
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - New York Gov. Eliot Spitzer on Wednesday dropped a controversial plan to issue driver's licenses to illegal immigrants because of overwhelming opposition to the policy.
"I've concluded that New York state cannot conduct this program on its own," Spitzer said at a Capitol Hill news conference. "It does not take a stethoscope to hear the pulse of New Yorkers on this topic."
Spitzer's plan sparked a national debate over the extension of certain privileges to illegal immigrants and haunted Democratic presidential front-runner New York Sen. Hillary Clinton on the campaign trail.
Clinton's equivocating answer to a question in a debate about whether she supported Spitzer's plan prompted lingering criticism from her closest Democratic rivals, Illinois Sen. Barack Obama and former North Carolina Sen. John Edwards.
Republicans also were using it as a new line of attack against their old foe.
Spitzer said he had come to believe that the proposal would eventually be blocked either by legal challenges or by the New York legislature.
He said he still believed his plan would be the best way to secure the roads in a state with an estimated 1 million illegal immigrants, many of whom drive without licenses or insurance.
He also criticized the federal government for leaving states to deal with illegal immigrants. Congress failed to overhaul immigration laws earlier this year.
"The federal government has lost control of its borders, has allowed millions of undocumented immigrants to enter our country and now has no solution to deal with it," he said at the news conference, where he was joined by Democratic lawmakers from the state.
In an interview with the New York Times, Spitzer acknowledged that he would be criticized for changing course on the issue for the second time in three weeks.
The Times said Spitzer's latest shift was likely to further complicate his relations with Hispanic lawmakers, who supported his original policy but were upset when he offered a revised plan calling for different levels of licenses.
Efforts at a comprehensive overhaul of immigration laws collapsed in the U.S. Congress amid a bitter debate on the future of an estimated 12 million immigrants in the United Sates, many of whom are Hispanic.
NY governor drops immigrant license plan - Yahoo! News