Spitzer: Immigration Issue “Too Complex” for States

Here’s part of the prepared version of Eliot Spitzer’s speech in D.C. today in which he says he’s learned, from his failed proposal to provide driver’s licenses to illegal immigrants, that immigration is “too complex and too macro” an issue to be taken on by states.

As Attorney General, I often had to step into the enormous vacuum left by a federal government that did not embrace its most fundamental responsibilities. Whether it was ensuring fair play in the markets, protecting the environment, enforcing labor laws or product safety, time and again, the Attorney General’s office was forced to step into the void left by federal inaction.

As Governor, it has not been much different. Whether it’s health care, climate change, education or, in this case immigration, states are feeling the brunt of federal abdication and conscious neglect of a problem that is crying out for a solution.

But what I have learned here is that, while there are times when states should be laboratories, immigration is not one of them. It’s too complex and too macro a challenge to be solved by a patchwork of state policies. But the reality of 14 million undocumented immigrants nationwide and one million in New York isn’t going away. So my challenge to the federal government is this: fix it. Fix the problem so the states won’t face the local impact.

With that, I look forward to getting back to an agenda that addresses the needs of all New Yorkers.