NEW YORK – Pressed anew on whether she supports granting driver's licenses to illegal immigrants, Democrat Hillary Rodham Clinton said Tuesday it depends on the state.
In an interview with a cable news channel, Clinton, a New York senator, reiterated her support for governors who must contend with large populations of undocumented workers in the absence of federal immigration reform. She then was asked whether she thinks it is a "good idea" for governors to allow illegal immigrants to obtain driver's licenses.
"It depends upon what state they're in. It depends upon what they think the risks are," Clinton said. "A governor of New York that has a lot of immigrants, many of whom we know are not there legally, has to worry about security. A governor of another state where that's not a problem doesn't."
Clinton was widely criticized after a televised debate last week when she hedged an answer on whether she supported New York Gov. Eliot Spitzer's effort to grant licenses to illegal immigrants. Clinton said she understood why governors are forced to take such steps but said she didn't necessarily agree with the policy.
She has struggled since then to clarify her stance on the matter, which is widely unpopular in most states, including New York. Eight states, including conservative Utah, do not require proof of citizenship to obtain a driver's license.
Clinton campaign aides say she generally supports the concept of granting licenses to illegal immigrants, in the absence of comprehensive immigration reform.
"This issue has been so politicized and I understand that because you can score points," Clinton said, adding that she felt the matter didn't lend itself to a 30-second answer in a debate format.