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ImmigrantDriver’sLice 3rdLd-Writethru 10-27

Deal made on new licenses

The Bush administration and New York cut a deal Saturday to create a new generation of super-secure driver’s licenses for U.S. citizens, but also allow illegal immigrants to get a version.

New York is the fourth state to reach an agreement on federally approved secure licenses, after Arizona, Vermont and Washington. The issue is pressing for border states, where new and tighter rules are soon to go into effect for crossings. The New York deal comes about one month after Gov. Eliot Spitzer announced a plan whereby illegal immigrants with a valid foreign passport could obtain a license.

Saturday’s agreement with the Homeland Security Department will create a three-tier license system in New York. It is the largest state to sign on so far to the government’s post-Sept. 11 effort to make identification cards more secure.

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."

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Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff said he was not happy that New York intended to issue IDs to illegal immigrants. But he said there was nothing he could do to stop it.

"I don’t endorse giving licenses to people who are not here legally, but federal law does allow states to make that choice," Chertoff said.

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