Latino Lawmakers Push Spitzer to Adopt ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ Policy

Lawmakers who met with Eliot Spitzer about his new driver’s license policy have asked the governor to sign a “don’t ask, don’t tell” executive order guaranteeing that undocumented residents can access state services without fear of having their immigration status reported to law enforcement officials.

“I raised the issue to him as sort of a way to help immigrants feel comfortable even applying for this license,” state Senator Jose Serrano, a Democrat from the Bronx, told me a few minutes ago.

Serrano brought up the issue earlier during a breakfast on the East Side, where he and other lawmakers met with Spitzer to discuss the driver’s license policy. A similar policy has long been in effect in New York City, where it was supported by every mayor from Ed Koch to Michael Bloomberg.

“I told him when Mayor Bloomberg did it, it was something that was extremely well received in the immigrant community and it made a lot of sense and I don’t think it hurt Bloomberg politically at all,” Serrano said.

Assemblyman Jose Peralta, a Democrat from Queens who also attended the breakfast, said the executive order could help immigrants accept Spitzer’s new driver’s license policy.

Peralta said, “Right now they’re in the process of reviewing it and trying to consider it. Because our point was, here you’ve taken a step back, although he disagrees. ‘It wasn’t a step back, it was a step forward.’ But in the eyes of immigrants fighting for this cause, so people won’t get profiled, it was a step back. Now it’s a three-tier system. So, in spite of that, we said if you could sign this executive order, don’t ask don’t tell, it will soften the blow, in terms of being able to swallow this.”