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Spitzer Poised To Ease Access To Licenses

The national security debate over giving illegal immigrants driver's licenses is heating up in New York, as Governor Spitzer considers throwing out a Pataki-era policy requiring applicants to submit valid Social Security numbers.

During last year's gubernatorial campaign, Mr. Spitzer said he would permit illegal immigrants to obtain driver's licenses, arguing that banning them from driving worsened the lives of hundreds of thousands of New Yorkers without improving security. Mr. Spitzer's position came under fire from his Republican opponent, John Faso, but the governor has said little about the issue since.

Now, one New York group, the Coalition for a Secure Driver's License, says the governor is poised to repeal Governor Pataki's order and is urging the governor to reconsider changing a policy that it says is helping to thwart terrorist attacks.

"The 9/11 Commission pointed out that the 19 terrorists had at least 35 licenses," a board member of the coalition who lost his 23-year-old son in the World Trade Center attack, Peter Gadiel, said. "These licenses were the keys that enabled them to rent cars and open bank accounts, get credits cards, and buy flight lessons. It gave them everything they needed to plan, rehearse, and carry out their attacks."

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