Poll finds 77 per­cent op­pose driv­ers li­censes for il­le­gals

The Washington Times Weekly - - From Page One - By Stephen Di­nan

Vot­ers op­pose driver’s li­censes for il­le­gal aliens by a nearly five-toone mar­gin, a new Fox 5/Wash­ing­ton Times/Ras­mussen Re­ports poll finds.

As im­mi­gra­tion pol­i­tics ex­plode into the pres­i­den­tial race, polls show Amer­i­cans are tak­ing a hard line on ben­e­fits for il­le­gal aliens, in­clud­ing op­pos­ing driver’s li­censes and such tax­payer-funded ben­e­fits as schol­ar­ships at state col­leges for il­le­galalien stu­dents.

The new poll found 77 per­cent of the adults sur­veyed op­posed mak­ing driver’s li­censes avail­able to il­le­gal aliens, while just 16 per­cent sup­ported the idea.

Li­censes fared poorly across party lines, in­clud­ing near-blan­ket op­po­si­tion among self-iden­ti­fied Repub­li­cans, at 88 per­cent. Among in­de­pen­dents and Democrats, it was still over­whelm­ingly un­pop­u­lar, draw­ing 75 per­cent and 68 per­cent op­po­si­tion, re­spec­tively.

New York Gov. Eliot Spitzer in Septem­ber pro­posed adding New York to the list of seven states that of­fer li­censes to il­le­gal aliens, and the is­sue has re­fused to die down since.

Most Demo­cratic pres­i­den­tial can­di­dates have em­braced the pol­icy, in­clud­ing front-run­ner Sen. Hil­lary Rod­ham Clin­ton, ar­gu­ing it’s a mat­ter of road safety and a valid re­sponse to the fed­eral gov­ern­ment’s fail­ure to give a path to cit­i­zen­ship to il­le­gal aliens.

But those on the other side, in­clud­ing Demo­cratic pres­i­den­tial can­di­date Sen. Christo­pher J. Dodd and the en­tire Repub­li­can pres­i­den­tial field, op­pose the idea.

“I think we have to quit in­duc­ing peo­ple to come and stay if they’re il­le­gal,” said for­mer Ten­nessee Sen. Fred Thompson, one of the Repub­li­can can­di­dates.

On the is­sue of pub­lic ben­e­fits, the poll’s sam­ple of Cal­i­for­nia vot­ers found 62 per­cent op­posed state­spon­sored col­lege schol­ar­ships for chil­dren of il­le­gal aliens, while 24 per­cent sup­ported the con­cept.

The idea was un­pop­u­lar in both par­ties, with Repub­li­cans op­posed by a mar­gin of 81 per­cent to 11 per­cent, and Democrats against it by 50 per­cent to 33 per­cent.

The state’s Repub­li­can gov­er­nor, Arnold Sch­warzeneg­ger, ve­toed a bill last month that would have al­lowed il­le­gal-alien chil­dren to ap­ply for com­mu­nity col­lege fee waivers and other types of fi­nan­cial aid. Mr. Sch­warzeneg­ger said the pol­icy would strain pub­lic fi­nances and hurt le­gal-res­i­dent stu­dents.

“It would not be pru­dent to place ad­di­tional strain on the gen­eral fund to ac­cord the new ben­e­fit of provid- ing state-sub­si­dized fi­nan­cial aid to stu­dents with­out law­ful im­mi­gra­tion sta­tus,” the gov­er­nor said in his veto mes­sage, point­ing out that Cal­i­for­nia al­ready al­lows il­le­gal aliens to pay in-state tu­ition rates.

It was the sec­ond time in two years he has ve­toed the mea­sure. He also has ve­toed bills to ex­tend driver’s li­censes to il­le­gal aliens.

Mean­while, on the is­sue of en­force­ment, the poll’s sam­ple of 500 Texas vot­ers found strong sup­port for a crack­down: 75 per­cent said they fa­vor po­lice of­fi­cers au­to­mat­i­cally check­ing le­gal sta­tus dur­ing traf­fic stops, and 66 per­cent said if some­one stopped turns out to be il­le­gal, they should be de­ported.

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