Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Did Maine Blink?

Edited at 4:10 to add resolution: Gov. Baldacci announced today that the state has received an extension from the Department of Homeland Security. According to an update on, the governor said in a letter he would present legislation to the Maine Legislature that would require proof of U. S. Residency to get a Maine driver's license. End of update.

Maine may be blinking. The federal government has told the State that Mainers will undergo much more scrutiny when they fly or enter federal buildings unless the State complies with provisions of Real I.D. Real I.D. is an attempt to give all Americans a uniform identification procedure. The Maine Legislature has passed a law that forbids the State to join the Real I.D. plan.

Maine had a deadline of March 31st to request an extension of the rule. It did not meet that deadline. But late last week Gov. John Baldacci requested Mainers not be treated differently than any other resident. Homeland Security extended the deadline for Maine until five P.M. today (April 2nd). But it also gave the guidelines needed for an extension approval.

Maine is well known as a sanctuary state. No questions about immigrant status are asked here for anything. Immigrants can come here, get on welfare programs, get drivers’ licenses and no one asks if they are residents. All this because of a Gov. Baldacci executive order forbidding the asking of such questions.

The Maine Legislature then enacted a law that says Maine will not join the Real I.D. requirement from the Department of Homeland Security. The state cited costs, privacy and other reasons for not joining. 49 other states have now either accepted the federal requirements or have indicated an attempt to conform. Maine alone did not meet yesterday’s deadline.

The governor did send a letter to Homeland Security requesting that Mainers without an acceptable Real I.D. identification but a valid Maine license not be treated differently. The response came back that a couple major problems still faced Maine. The feds said Maine must either stop issuing licenses to illegal aliens or issue them a separate type of license that indicates that status.

Yesterday, Gov. Baldacci blinked. He is expected to tell Homeland Security today that it is too late for this year for Maine to change its rules as the Legislature, scheduled to adjourn by mid-April, doesn’t have time to debate a new law. The Legislature doesn’t convene again until mid-December. He said a new law will be drafted for debate at that time.

Two recent situations, one of which was last week, have put the problem to the forefront. Earlier in March, a man from New Jersey was arrested transporting illegal aliens (because of the illegality, I refer to them as alien, as alien to American law as opposed to immigrant, the many people from other countries who have followed our laws to gain entrance to the country) to Maine specifically to get drivers’ licenses. Then just this past weekend, a Massachusetts man was arrested for transporting an illegal for the same purpose.

Along with Maine being the jump off point for several illegals who hijacked aircraft on 9/11 and crashed them into buildings in New York and Washington, these current incidents have highlighted the problem of illegal aliens getting Maine licenses.

It will be interesting to see how the feds rule on this one, but the results won’t be known for a few more days.


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