This is a partial transcript from The War on Terror: The Hunt for the Killers. For a complete transcript of the entire broadcast click here.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOHN ASHCROFT, ATTORNEY GENERAL: As September 11th vividly illustrates, aliens also come to our country with the intent to do great evil. Just as we welcome America's friends, we will not allow our welcome to be abused by those who are America's enemies.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VESTER: U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft.
While America is taking unprecedented steps to protect our borders, our bridges, our tunnels from terrorist attacks, a New York lawmaker wants to give illegal aliens a license to drive in the United States. Democratic state assemblyman Felix Ortiz says that the move would allow immigrants to find better jobs, but his critics are saying that this kind of move is a passport for terror.
The assemblyman is joining us now in our studio.
Thanks for being here.
FELIX ORTIZ, NEW YORK ASSEMBLYMAN (D-BROOKLYN): Thank you for having me on your program.
VESTER: In fairness, that's not exactly what the bill says. The bill would allow any immigrant, legal or otherwise...
ORTIZ: Or otherwise.
VESTER: ... to use a federal taxpayer ID number to qualify for a license.
ORTIZ: That's correct.
VESTER: OK, but now let's narrow it down to the illegal immigrant question, right? The 911 hijackers are people who didn't exactly have their papers in order. So some people might say, "Wait a minute!" You're giving them a chance to drive vehicles like trucks — translation, truck bombs. What are you thinking?
ORTIZ: Well, really, it doesn't make no difference whether we allow them to have the license or not because if people want to commit act of terrorism, they will do it one way or another. So this really doesn't given them the key to really to do more terrorism. That was not the thinking behind and the rationale behind when I was drafting this legislation.
ORTIZ: The rationale behind this legislation came by default, that I was having dinner in a diner in my local neighborhood...
ORTIZ: ... and a waiter reached out to me and said, you know, "How can I get driver's license?" I said, "You need a Social Security." He said, "But I don't have a Social Security." So when this particular waiter explained to me his situation, what he was going through, having a mother who is handicapped...
ORTIZ: ... having a child who is handicapped...
ORTIZ: ... living in this country...
VESTER: I understand, you know, I mean, then file for the papers to become a legal alien.
ORTIZ: Well, that is absolutely right, but sometimes people who even are filing...
VESTER: I mean, why do we give them the right to have a driver's license here if they're not going to file for the right papers to become a legal alien, a resident?
ORTIZ: Well, in order for them to really apply for the driver's license, they need to go through a process, and the process of the legislation will call for them to really comply with some criteria, some requirement that is called up in this law.
VESTER: Right. But I mean, if they're going to go through the paperwork, why not go through the real paperwork? I mean, if they're going to take some time and fill out papers, why not just fill out the papers to be a legal alien?
ORTIZ: Well, it's very simple. You have some people who are resident who sometime they have a lot of difficulty because of red tape...
ORTIZ: ... and the bureaucracy that's going on to get Social Security number. And what I'm saying is until some of those (UNINTELLIGIBLE) those people who also are waiting for a Social Security number, let's use the tax identification employee tax (UNINTELLIGIBLE) number...
ORTIZ: ... for them to allow them to have driver's license.
VESTER: I mean, I don't want to sound unsympathetic, but, I mean, some of these folks in theory would be taking jobs away from American citizens or legal aliens, for that matter. So why help them?
ORTIZ: Linda, and on the same (UNINTELLIGIBLE), we should talk about what happen in ground zero with those 600 employees that no one wants to (UNINTELLIGIBLE) a job, and it was undocumented people working there, taking for granted, taking for the right, and they were risking their health. And now, all of a sudden, Daily News came out two days in a row dealing with the issue, and now we are in a very difficult environment today.
I don't believe it's unfair. I don't believe it's something that I did it purposely because of terrorism. I think I'm calling for the fairness because of those people who had been in this country. They'd be treat injustice. I know they have no paper at all. But I think we should give them an opportunity. They contribute to our economy, and if — with the taxes...
VESTER: Wow, well, not everyone agrees with you. And I hate to do this, but I'm going to have to hold this for another time. I'd like the chance to wrestle with you about this a little bit more.
ORTIZ: We will welcome that.
VESTER: Deal? All right.
ORTIZ: Thank you, Linda.
VESTER: Felix Ortiz, assemblyman of New York, thank you very much.
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