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Spitzer, Federal Government Reach Deal on Drivers Licenses

By WBFO News

Washington, DC – Homeland Security has struck a deal with New York to create a more secure driver's license for U.S. citizens, that also allows illegal immigrants to get a version.

New York is the fourth state to reach this kind of agreement, behind Arizona, Vermont and Washington. It comes a month after New York Governor Eliot Spitzer announced a plan to allow illegal immigrants with a valid foreign passport to obtain a license.

Spitzer, who has faced much criticism on the issue, said the deal means New York "will usher in the most secure licensing system in the nation."

Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff says he's not happy that New York intends to issue IDs to people who are here illegally, but says there's nothing he can do to stop it. Federal law allows states to make that choice.

The deal creates a three-tier license system, with one indended to, as Spitzer puts it, bring people "out of the shadows."

New York will produce one ID that will be as secure as a passport and is intended for people who soon will need to meet such requirements, even for a short drive to Canada.

A second version of the license will meet new federal standards of the Real ID Act, a law designed to make it much harder for illegal immigrants or would-be terrorists to obtain licenses.

A third type of license will be available to undocumented immigrants.