Bethlehem’s police chief took a pre-emptive shot at the possibility of the city ever issuing identification cards to illegal immigrants.
On Tuesday night, Chief Mark DiLuzio told Bethlehem City Council: “I’m a police officer for 34 years and took an oath to uphold the law. I cannot condone the issuing of any state or local identification cards to individuals who are here illegally in this country.”
DiLuzio said during his police career, he has had first-hand encounters with many illegal aliens who had multiple fake driver’s licenses and identification cards.
“Many had a criminal history in multiple states and were here from other states,” he said, adding they had been deported but returned to the United States under different names with different state driver’s licenses.
The chief indicated any local action to offer IDs to illegal immigrants will only generate more confusion with a federal immigration problem that already is out of control – “creating and encouraging more unlawful behavior.”
No one on City Council responded to the chief’s comments during the meeting.
After the meeting, council president J. William Reynolds said: “It wasn’t even something we’ve thought about before.” He added, as far as he knows, there has been no discussion about the issue among council members.
Mayor Robert Donchez said he also is not aware of any movement by City Council to take action on ID cards for illegal immigrants. Donchez said he also has had no discussions with anyone about that issue.
DiLuzio spent most of his time addressing City Council by reading a letter Northampton County District Attorney John Morganelli sent to all police chiefs in the county.
Morganelli asked the chiefs to oppose efforts by their municipalities to grant benefits to individuals who are in this country illegally.
“As chief law enforcement officer in Northampton County, I am adamantly opposed to allowing individuals who are illegally in the country to integrate themselves by obtaining state-issued or municipal-issued valid identification cards,” wrote the district attorney.
Morganelli’s letter stated: “Recently, the City of Easton Council passed a resolution urging the Pennsylvania state legislature to allow illegal criminal aliens in Pennsylvania to obtain valid drivers licenses.”
Easton’s City Council took that action on May 28.
Morganelli also wrote that Allentown is considering issuing municipal identification cards to “illegal aliens” living in that city. The D.A. said that initiative has support from some police officers.
In March, Allentown’s City Council took a symbolic stand in support of comprehensive U.S. immigration reform. It unanimously passed a resolution recommending "federal enactment of rational solutions to fix our broken immigration system."
Morganelli wrote that the terrorists who blew up the World Trade Center skyscrapers and killed thousands of Americans on Sept. 11, 2001 used fraudulent driver’s licenses “to give themselves cover from their criminal activity.”
“A driver’s license is a ticket into American mainstream,” he wrote. “They allow people to establish an identity and gain a gain a foothold in communities.”
Morganelli warned that getting a driver’s license is a first step toward obtaining a commercial driver’s license to drive tractor-trailers containing hazardous wastes.
He wrote that in the past years, the FBI has put law enforcement officials on alert “for U.S.-based operatives connected to terrorist organizations” who may be in possession of commercial licenses and may be planning to use “truck bombs.”
Morganelli warned that terrorists from Yemen, Afghanistan, Iraq, Iran and other countries that sponsor state-sanctioned terrorism would have equal access to driver’s licenses issued by Pennsylvania, as would “gang members, drug dealers and other criminals from other countries south of our U.S. border.”
The district attorney wrote that many of the illegal aliens who have been arrested in Northampton County have criminal records in their country of origin or are wanted on criminal warrants for serious crimes committed in other parts of United States.
He said many of those individuals already are operating with fake identities and have numerous IDs, “making their identification just about impossible.”
“By opening up privileges such as driver’s licenses and municipal identification cards to those who come in and ask for them, we are allowing individuals to gain cover with potential bad outcomes.”
“For the safety of Northampton County,” Morganelli asked the police chiefs to read his letter at the next meeting of their municipal bodies, which is exactly what DiLuzio did.
The D.A.’s letter acknowledged many illegal immigrants have good intentions but “everyone here is in violation of U.S. law if they came across the border illegally.”