Lehigh Valley

Northampton County DA: Driver licenses for illegal immigrants could attract terrorists

DA, mayor debate driver's licenses for illegal immigrants

EASTON, Pa. - A resolution passed by Easton City Council is not sitting well with Northampton County John Morganelli, who said giving illegal immigrants driver licenses could open the door for terrorists.

Morganelli said he respects the Easton City Council's decision, but he wishes law enforcement would have been consulted.

Easton Mayor Sal Panto said the council did its homework. Panto said the resolution is a way to show support for people who are in Pennsylvania illegally but still paying taxes.

"It's not an ordinance of the city, it's not a law. We don't have that right," said Panto. "It's a resolution encouraging others to act."

Last week, the Easton City Council passed a resolution asking members of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives to pass House Bill 1648, which would provide all undocumented residents in Easton the opportunity to get a driver's license. 

"Undocumented workers in this state have paid $134 million annually in taxes," added Panto.

"Accommodating and rewarding those who violate our immigration laws encourages others to follow the same path and gives immigrants little incentive to pursue the legal path of immigration," Morganelli said.

Morganelli said terrorists, similar to the 9/11 hijackers, could get licenses and carry out acts of terrorism in the Commonwealth and other parts of the nation. He noted there are other ramifications, as well.

"States who grant drivers' licenses to illegal aliens become magnets for illegal immigration," added Morganelli.

Morganelli said he is hoping other municipalities don't follow in the footsteps of Easton.

Panto knows House Bill 1648 needs more support to pass.

"I think the House bill is excellent, but I don't think it's going to move," said Panto.

Pennsylvania House Bill 1648 was introduced last year and has been stuck in the transportation committee since August 2013.

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