This morning, I had an brief “Emily Litella” moment when I foolishly judged a Boston Globe story by its headline. “Denied licenses, legal immigrants sue state Registry.”
My first impression was that the Globe had it right for once: in our zeal to crack down on illegal aliens, we should be extremely careful not to do what the illegals’ advocates do and lump them in with the ones who have obeyed the laws and played by the rules. Those who have done the right thing and come here fully legally and aboveboard need to be recognized and lauded, not hassled and harassed and denied their rights.
But that was my mistake: trusting the Globe and believing that they were on the right, sensible, and correct side of something.
The bare facts of the story are correct: legal aliens have been seeking drivers’ licenses, as they are entitled to, and been denied by Registry officials, and they are suing to overturn those decisions. But it’s the REASON that the licenses were denied that is the key here.
It seems that Registry employees had gotten into the nasty habit of asking applicants to prove their legal status before issuing their license. And since it is well known and established that no one, even those who are here illegally, would EVER stoop to lying about their immigration status while seeking official, state-issued identification, asking such was a gross invasion of privacy and violation of the civil rights of the applicants.
All sarcasm aside, it appears that the suit has a serious chance of succeeding, thanks to typically insane Massachusetts laws and policies. It seems that in order to obtain a Massachusetts drivers’ license, an applicant must provide proof of residency and a valid Social Security number. (It doesn’t have to be THEIR Social Security number, apparently; all that is checked is that it is valid, not that it belongs to the applicant.)
Critics say this is what happens when you have state officials not trained in enforcing federal immigration laws actually trying to enforce them. (These are usually the same people who oppose training state officials on federal immigration law.)
But to me, it’s just one more way of blending illegal aliens and legal residents into one amorphous mass, so that those of us who actually believe in such antiquated notions as laws and rules and borders can be called “racists” and “xenophobes” and “anti-immigration bigots” and the like.