Virginia Driver’s License Bill for Illegal Aliens Expanded: The 9-11 Era Fix Has Been Undone
By Tanner Bonovitch | FAIR Take | April 2020
The Virginia General Assembly gathered for its annual reconvene session on April 22. During this session, bills that the governor has proposed amendments to or vetoed are considered by each chamber. This year, Governor Ralph Northam (D-Virginia) sent 102 amendments and 1 veto back to the General Assembly for its consideration. One of the bills sent back with proposed amendments was Senate Bill (SB) 34, which allows illegal aliens to obtain a Virginia driver’s licenses.
The governor recommended 15 amendments to SB 34. A majority of the amendments were focused on technical and legal language. However, Amendment 6 made a substantive change by removing the requirement that the new licenses be labeled, “Driver Privilege Card: not valid ID for voting or pubic benefits purposes.” Without this language, driver’s licenses for illegal aliens will now look virtually identical to those of a US citizen or legal immigrant.
The Senate voted along party lines 21-18 to accept the Governor’s recommendations. After the Senate vote, the House of Delegates voted 49-41 to accept the amendments. Ten delegates in the House abstained allowing it to pass. If they had all voted against the amendments, the bill to grant driver’s licenses to illegal aliens would’ve been defeated. Several of the Democrats abstaining from the vote, like Delegate Nancy Guy from Virginia Beach, did so to avoid taking a position on a bill they knew their constituents opposed.
Opponents of allowing illegal aliens to receive driver’s licenses included Virginia GOP spokesman John March, who stated, “instead of working on behalf of their, constituents, Democrats chose to work on behalf of illegal immigrants.. I’m not sure that the farmer without access to broadband or the single mother struggling to make ends meet will be too happy about this.”
Additionally, FAIR’s Matthew Tragesser commented, “[g]iving any form of driving privileges to illegal aliens not only undermines public safety but national security as well. Providing these cards incentivizes more illegal immigration, rewards law breakers, and jeopardizes our national security.”
Virginia has seen the consequences of loose identification laws affecting national security before. In 2001, seven of the nineteen 9-11 hijackers were able to receive IDs from Virginia’s Department of Motor Vehicles, the most from any single state. As reported at the time by the Los Angeles Times, a recently released FBI affidavit showed how a Virginia law allowed virtually anyone to attest to an individual’s residency so that person could obtain a state issued identification. The hijackers took advantage of Virginia’s law, hiring an illegal alien who then falsely certified that the hijackers lived in Virginia.
Ken Cuccinelli, former Virginia State Senator and Virginia Attorney General, and now Acting Deputy Secretary of the US Department of Homeland Security (DHS), said, “It was embarrassing to us in Virginia, that the majority of 9-11 terrorists used Virginia driver’s licenses to help accomplish their evil mission, and we set about to fix that. And we did fix that.” Unfortunately, that fix has now been undone.
Barring any court challenges, driver’s licenses for illegal aliens in Virginia will go into effect January 1, 2021. Ironically, the same year Virginia will grant driver’s licenses to those in the state illegally, Virginia citizens will need to comply with Real ID.