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OpinionColumnistsWilliam F. B. O'Reilly

America needs immigration laws, not executive orders

Izzy Berdan, center, wears an American flag as

Izzy Berdan, center, wears an American flag as he chants with other demonstrators during a rally against President Donald Trump's order that restricts travel to the U.S. on Sunday, Jan. 29, 2017, in Boston. Credit: AP

How quickly we forget.

Serious discussion of driver’s licenses for immigrants here illegally is being floated again in Albany after a decadelong hiatus.

Never mind the 9/11 Commission recommendation for tough, uniform state license standards. Never mind that the 19 al-Qaida terrorists obtained dozen of licenses in states with lax laws to attend flight school, send and receive financial wire transfers overseas, rent cars and safe houses and generally blend into enemy territory. Never mind that former Gov. Eliot Spitzer was stopped dead in his tracks — rightly — when he proposed the idea early in his governorship.

Fed by resistance to all things Donald Trump, the wind is now blowing in favor of those in the United States illegally, driver’s licenses thrown in. Pols are tripping over one another to guarantee rights and privileges to people living here unlawfully. It’s become good politics to erase any remaining lines between citizen and non-citizen, even as our immigration border and enforcement systems remain broken.

It’s national suicide.

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo just proposed making New York a sanctuary state. It would make it near impossible to deport anyone but criminals here illegally from the state. Anyone on the globe wanting to become a New Yorker could simply drive, fly, or walk into the state and remain for life, no questions asked, benefits included. I can think of entire national populations who would want to take the governor up on that.

Fortunately, Senate Majority Leader John Flanagan had the sense to puncture the governor’s trial balloon before it got airborne. It’s possible Cuomo was banking on that when he proposed it. That, or it was a Hail Mary pass to stem New York’s tax-and-economy-driven population losses.

President Trump’s absurdly devised executive order banning travel from seven nations helped foster this latest political frenzy. It emboldened liberal politicians seeking national relevance to propose new ways to blur any remaining distinctions between legal and illegal.

Politics aside, it’s an understandable instinct. My youngest daughter attends school with wonderful children living here without documentation. We sit in church with their hardworking parents. When it’s time to say “peace be with you,” we shake hands and mean it.

Even with the local budget deficits and tax increases for English-as second-language instruction, my family and families like ours want normalcy and resolution to this immigration mess. We want a clear set of rules, uniform enforcement of those rules, a realistic federal resolution for those now here and border security going forward.

When the federal government fails to do its job on a matter clearly under its jurisdiction, cities, states and localities are forced to step in an improvise. The resulting hodgepodge of practices and politically motivated laws are cancerous to a federal system. A nation must have order to survive.

Trump has two Republican majorities in Congress. He should use them while he has any popularity left at all.

William F. B. O’Reilly is a consultant for Republicans.