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Two sides of driver's license issue

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On Dec. 14, New York State began allowing people who are in the country illegally to apply for driver’s licenses [“Immigrants seeking driver’s licenses pack DMVs,” News, Dec. 18]. I believe this policy will make our roads safer.

In 2007, a particular defendant kept coming back before me in Westbury Village Court. He had been convicted twice of driving without a license. I was sure he was among the millions of immigrants in the country without U.S. documentation. They come here for better lives and to escape poverty and danger in their own nations. To survive, such people live in an underground economy where many are day laborers or domestics. So how could I solve the problem of him driving without a license and insurance? This was a safety issue for him and other drivers who could be involved in a serious accident with him. I could give him a $150 fine and 15 days in jail, but this would not solve the problem. I knew he would be back because he has to make a living.

I had to find a solution. I decided to declare New York’s unlicensed operation law unconstitutional because it violated the equal protection clauses of the state and federal constitutions. A New York Post editorial against me carried the headline “Judge Liotti Legislates.” I exercised the power of judicial review.

When the case was appealed, the defendant could not afford an attorney; my decision was reversed. I believe it has, however, led New York to make a much-needed change in the law.

To ensure safety in our communities, we need everyone driving a car to pass a road test, get a driver’s license and insurance. This will lead to greater safety on our roads.

Thomas F. Liotti,

  Westbury

Editor’s note: The writer is Westbury Village justice.

We are a land of rules, regulations and laws, so, in my view, it is ludicrous and unconstitutional to give immigrants in the country illegally the chance to apply for New York State driver’s licenses.

Our elected politicians have rewarded illegal behavior. Nobody is above the law, including these immigrants. It is fundamentally wrong to act like a sanctuary state, allowing immigrants who are here without U.S. documentation to be rewarded with a driver’s license. What’s next? The right to vote?

Alan Zederbaum,

   Holbrook

A community has two reasons to be proud

The story on singer Jay Mauro and the HIMS and Her group [“From a life of drugs to Carnegie Hall,” News, Dec. 15] and the story of Suffolk County Highway Patrol Officer Richard Gandolfo’s Carnegie Medal for heroism [“Special honor for officer’s ’18 rescue,” News, Dec. 15] should bring loud cheers from Center Moriches and St. John the Evangelist Catholic Church, where Mauro has been a cantor and Gandolfo a fellow parishioner.

Thanks to Newsday for both stories on courage!

Harriet Garzero,

  Syosset

Nonbelievers can hope and work for peace

As one of the largest secular organizations on Long Island dedicated to preserving separation of church and state, our membership notes that agnostic and atheistic Long Islanders often feel like outsiders during the holiday season. Before you respond, “Well, that’s their choice,” imagine living where nearly everyone subscribes to a set of ancient beliefs that you personally find incompatible with your scientific view of the world.

Certainly, many nonbelievers were brought up with yule traditions and continue to practice them. More than a few of our members display and decorate holiday trees, although they don’t recount the Nativity story to their children.

It’s no coincidence that major holidays fall close to the winter solstice. The ancients must have been terrified as they watched the daylight dwindling day by day. But by a few days after the solstice, they saw the daylight returning — a natural wonder surely worth celebrating!

We wish to remind Long Island’s nonreligious and nonbelievers at this time of year that they are not alone. They can hope and work for peace on Earth without believing in deities or following organized religion. They don’t need liturgy to reaffirm their love for their family and friends, or for humanity.

Richard Schloss,

   East Northport

Editor’s note: The writer is president of Long Island Atheists, an organization that advocates for separation of church and state.

Presidents should be held to account

If it is true that Presidents George W. Bush, Barack Obama and Donald Trump have misled the country on the war in Afghanistan, as described in a federal project examining the root failures of the conflict, I believe they belong in jail [“Hiding the truth on Afghanistan,” News, Dec. 10].

I am sure that all three have seen the war’s devastation in death and physical and mental injuries. In the meantime, our defense industry continues to prosper. How do the presidents live with themselves? This makes Trump’s impeachment process look trivial.

Randy Perlmutter,

   Oceanside

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