Next Steps for Illegal Immigrants

California's legislature, facing the wrath both of voters and a new governor, has repealed a law it passed just three months ago that would have granted driver's licenses to illegal immigrants.

The law, passed in a moment of desperate ethnic politics, didn't save Gov. Gray Davis (D) in a recall vote. In fact, public backlash against the law helped former legal immigrant Arnold Schwarzenegger capture the statehouse, and revealed the political fantasy of a "Latino vote."

Now a state that's home to millions of illegal immigrants should look hard at whether it can continue living with this corrosive mass lawlessness.

To provide yet more legal status to such lawbreakers would be a form of creeping amnesty that mocks immigration laws and jeopardizes federal efforts to catch terrorists.

And taking the "practical" route of giving licenses to illegal immigrants who now drive without them will only further encourage more Mexicans and others to illegally cross the border, endangering their lives. Why lure more migrants to take such risks?

California's new Republican governor proposes a replacement law that would have strong background checks before a license is granted to an illegal immigrant. A better solution would be for California's congressional delegation to work toward passage of a measure pending on Capitol Hill that would give preference to longtime illegal immigrants to live legally in the United States once they return to their native country and apply for a visa.

Granting the licenses now would put expediency over legality, and put more migrants and the nation at risk.

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