Wednesday, May 5, 2010


NYLJ 6-8-07


1. You say po-tat-o, I say po-tot-o. You say to-mat-o, I say to-mot-o. I say the DMV of NYS requiring people to verify that they are in the US legally when they can’t produce an SSN or a card denial notice is well within the province and scope of Vehicle & Traffic Law Section 490, 501, and 502 and 15 NYCRR Section 3.9, if they want a driver’s license. You say the DMV is usurping the power of the legislature by introducing an unauthorized prerequisite to get that primary piece of precious ID and discriminating against immigrants.

Let’s call the whole thing off…icially a matter for the Court of Appeals to say the whole thing is “merely an interpretation or explanation of a pre-existing rule,” but—with a dissent. That it was J. Carmen Beauchamp Ciparick who sided with the Puerto Rican Legal Defense & Education Fund counsel may be thought of as possible Hispanic favoritism (along the grounds of the “wise Latina” catcalls from the right-wing peanut-job gallery), until you regard her opinion. “Through this policy, the Commissioner is effectively setting immigration policy—an act well outside his authority—in the guise of verifying identity, which IS within his scope.”

That the Commish in question is also named Martinez only further spices up the lexical imbroglio. After all, it really does come down to the flexibility of labels…which brings up a favorite of our own at blueback blues: Parsing!

As one might suspect, any time regulations and Homeland Security come into the picture, 9/11 and the constant vigil against terrorists get ref’d. However, the majority opinion pointed out that an internal DMV document dated 11/6/01 proves that such measures were in place while Moh. Atta and his boys were still hanging out at Florida stripper bars. At its core, this measure was adopted, originally, to guard against fraud. So, then, the H.S. documentation is not that different from the card denial notice, only a bit steeper a climb, maybe. By the Court’s lights, “this classification plainly creates no suspect class, infringes no fundamental right, and raises no serious equal protection questions.”

Ok. Now you need the denial card AND an H.S. one saying you are here legally, not just entitled to work.

Ahhhh1 Let’s call the whole thing bureaucracy.

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