Mass. Considers Licensing Illegal Immigrants

This is a partial transcript from Hannity & Colmes, October 27, 2003, that has been edited for clarity.

SEAN HANNITY, CO-HOST: The state of Massachusetts could soon have a few new drivers on the road. The state legislature in Boston is considering a law that would give around 150,000 illegal immigrants the right to obtain a driver's license.

But could terrorists exploit this law and pose an even greater threat to national security?

Joining us now is a supporter of the law, Kieran O'Sullivan, an immigration counselor for the Irish Immigration Center.

Sir, how are you?


HANNITY: These people that we're talking about, they didn't respect our laws to come into the country. They're here illegally. Why do you give them legal documentation when they shouldn't even be here?

O'SULLIVAN: Thousands of people are here in the state at the moment, over 150,000 in Massachusetts. It's true that we have millions of people undocumented across the country. Clearly...

HANNITY: They're not undocumented. They're here illegally. They broke the law. They didn't respect our sovereignty. They came here illegally.

O'SULLIVAN: Clearly we have to do something about the immigration laws at the federal level. Indeed, senators and Congress have introduced some legislation to grant some status to many of those who are here undocumented.

Indeed, President Bush has gone on record on national television, saying at one time that he would like to see those who are here who are filling jobs that they cannot find Americans to do, he would like to see those people granted status.

HANNITY: I would support a worker program. I'd support changing the laws, expediting immigration for people. Both my grandparents, both sides, they came from Ireland. They came here legally.

I don't have a problem with that. But right now, they're not here legally. Why do you...

O'SULLIVAN: Well, at the moment...

HANNITY: Here's my question, why do you reward illegal immigration with legal status? Why do we do that?

O'SULLIVAN: What we seek to do at the moment here in the commonwealth is to save lives. There are figures issued by the National Transportation Safety Board (search)...

HANNITY: This is silly.

O'SULLIVAN: And studies done by the American Association, AAA, have said over 500,000 people die each career on the roads.

And actually AAA states that if a driver is out on the road without a driver's license, then that driver is five times more likely to be involved in a fatal accident. And this is why international police organizations across the country have supported this bill.

ALAN COLMES, CO-HOST: I want to get in here. I support you on this. I think it's a great -- the other thing is, driver's licenses are often used to trace criminal behavior, to trace wrongdoing, to get warrants for tickets, deadbeat moms and dads. Driver's licenses -- and by the way, they get IRS forms to fill out so the IRS knows they are here.

O'SULLIVAN: The people we're talking about are here, they're working hard. I see them every day. They're cleaning people's homes. They're minding people's children. They're minding our older people. They're landscaping. They're in construction.

Yes, they fell out of status because the immigration paperwork is very difficult to navigate. But I have here in my hands endorsements from police organizations across the country. And in Massachusetts, we have the Association of the Chiefs of Police backing us on this very issue.

COLMES: Right. As I understand it...

O'SULLIVAN: Across the country -- Tennessee, California -- police organizations have said that we're much better off knowing where the immigrants are living. At least if we have them in the database at the registry, we'll know where they are, their picture, et cetera, and we're better off knowing who is here.

COLMES: Mr. O'Sullivan, can you hear me OK? As I understand it, hundreds of Social Security cards are sold to illegals? They use those to get illegal licenses. They get on the road. There have been accidents not only in Massachusetts but other states, as well. This really is a safety issue. People opposed to you want to downplay that. It really is a safety issue.

O'SULLIVAN: Well, it's estimated that 10 percent of all road traffic accidents where there are fatalities are caused by unlicensed drivers.

If you don't get a driving license, you haven't been trained. You haven't been tested by a police officer to see if you know the rules of the road. And a lot of people are writing in to the newspaper saying that this is common sense legislation and we need the commonwealth of Massachusetts to bring it to the house floor for a vote, ASAP.

HANNITY: Thank you so much for being with us.

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