Monday, November 19, 2007

NY's Decision A Step Back and Set Back

Security and Fairness Lost in Political Gamesmanship of Misinformation

The American Friends Service Committee expresses its strong disappointment with New York Governor Eliot Spitzer's decision to abandon his administration's plan to provide an opportunity for undocumented immigrants to seek driver's licenses. This is not just a setback for the state's immigrant communities, but for all the people of New York.

The initial plan provided a historic opportunity for the Spitzer Administration to lead the nation in putting forth a humane policy which addressed local security and public safety concerns. Unfortunately, Spitzer's plan succumbed to a misinformation campaign and was withdrawn.

"The governor's plan would have promoted safer roads for all state residents, increased the number of insured drivers, and supported New York's thriving immigrant community which spurs on the state's economic vibrancy and development. Governor Spitzer's idea was a bold first step, but we still lack national leadership and desperately need legislation to offer permanent legal status to the nation's undocumented population," observes Amy Gottlieb, an attorney and director of AFSC's immigrant rights program in the Greater New York area.

While a significant number of the nation's citizenry have indicated their support for a path to permanent residency and eventual citizenship for undocumented immigrants, legislators have ignored their voices. Such a path would allow immigrants to adjust their legal status and end the daily fear and abuse they confront. In the meantime, the legislature's failure to act has led to the separation of families, increased raids in immigrants' homes and workplaces, deportations, and a growing population of individuals and families housed in detention centers.

"We will be in touch with New York legislators to express our disappointment and urge them to call on Congress and the White House to produce viable and constructive solutions," says Gottlieb. "New York City has been one of the nation's ports of entry for generations. The city is rich because people from around the world have come to make it an international commercial and cultural capital. Our work with and on behalf of immigrant communities will go on, and we will press our leaders to enact fair and humane policies, not ones based on fear, misinformation, and intolerance."