County clerks balk at driver's license plan

The majority of New York county clerks are opposed to Gov. Eliot Spitzer's plan to allow illegal immigrants access to valid New York driver's licenses, and some have threatened not to enforce the policy if it is unchanged.

Spitzer's plan would be in two phases. The first phase, implemented between now and April 2008, would offer licenses to about 152,000 people around the state who have lost their because the Social Security numbers they gave turned out to be fraudulent.

Phase two will take between six and eight months in order to allow the Department of Motor Vehicles to make necessary infrastructure changes.

The state Association of County Clerks estimates the new rules could result in 200,000 to 500,000 new licenses.

Saratoga County Clerk Kathleen Marchione, president of the New York State Association of County Clerks, proposed a resolution at a recent association meeting to urge the governor to withdraw his policy. Of the state's 62 county clerks, 29 voted in favor of the resolution, four opposed, and three abstained.

Twenty-six clerks did not participate in the meeting.

We believe it leaves our state at risk, and we've moved forward with our resolution as a collective body because we believe it's an inappropriate action, and we do not want to do it, said Marchione.

Marchione also said the policy will waste county and state resources. She said that if an illegal immigrant presents a document to the county clerk's office that is in a foreign language, that document must be scanned, then sent to and reviewed by a state agency to determine its validity. If the document turns out to be fake, the state has spent time and money without collecting a dime, she said.

"There has to be a way to recoup that money," she said. Marchione suggests a nonrefundable deposit, collected before paperwork begins.

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