|DA John Morganelli|
Calling the actions of Easton "misguided and uniformed," he chided its Council and Mayor for failing to seek input from the law enforcement community. He called it a "spur of the moment" decision that was passed without much thought. "[T]he fact is that this kind of initiative is an invitation to terrorists and criminals to come to your jurisdiction," he elaborated.
Driver licenses for undocumented immigrants are currently only available in a handful of states. It started in New Mexico in 2009, but Governor Suzanna Martinez is leading an effort to repeal the law on the basis that it leads to fraud, human trafficking and organized crime. Seventy-two percent of New Mexico voters were opposed to this law in a 2010 survey. According to Morganelli, New Mexico has become a magnet for illegal immigrants who have moved there from as far away as China, just so they can get a driver license.
According to Easton Mayor Panto, many undocumented immigrants came here legally, but stayed after their visas expired. He added that the "vast majority" of them are "good people who work hard to provide for their family." But at his news conference, Morganelli noted the resolution Easton passed would grant driver licenses to the "vast majority" as well as criminals and terrorists.
Morganelli agreed that undocumented immigrants who came here as children might be entitled to relief. But that is a federal matter, not something for Easton City Council or even Northampton County, according to the DA.
"Local municipal government should not attempt to influence public policy in an area outside of their responsibility and which could have dire consequences and unintended results for law enforcement's responsibility to protect the public," he concluded.
Morganelli is a long-time opponent of what he calls illegal aliens. But at yesterday's news conference, he conceded their number is shrinking, primarily because of the economy.
Blogger's Note: As John knows, I have never shared his views concerning undocumented immigrants. I understand the concern about terrorists and real criminals, but I think even he would agree that most of them are here for economic reasons. Not having a driver's license means they are basically forced to drive illegally. This means that if there's an accident, there's no insurance. How does that help us? In addition, the children of undocumented immigrants who were born abroad should not be forced to suffer for their parents' sins. But I buy the "magnet" argument. And I'll also agree that the solution, if it ever comes at all, must come at the federal level. I'm not holding my breath.