Activist Bill Kelly has written that Illinois Sheriff Mark Curran compared U.S. immigration policy to Nazi Germany at a recent "forum" on the issue. According to Kelly, Curran made his comment while being questioned about his support for a bill to give driver’s licenses to 250,000 illegal immigrants in Illinois.
When the Lake County Sheriff, who is considering a run for Attorney General in 2014, was asked if the legislation giving driver's licenses to illegal aliens was "a slap in the face to those who believe in the rule of law?”, he responded saying:
“Ultimately, I believe in the rule of law. But we have to be honest about that. When we talk about the rule of law, a couple of things. One, our country had the rule of law that women didn’t have the right to vote. Minorities didn’t. Rosa Parks got caught in the rule of law. We can go on. Nazi Germany was the rule of law. So, ultimately, some laws are unjust in some sense.”
After groans of disapproval, he restated: “I’m not talking about this one [law].” Later, he clarified his remarks further stating, “I think we have to be realistic about where we are going in terms of immigration. If we somehow think we are going to have this strong rule of law and put people on buses and what have you…”
An audience member commented that “when some laws aren’t enforced, it makes people disrespect all laws.” Curran responded saying, “Like I said, we could soon be looking at a law outlawing conservative organizations meeting in a public place.”
Another attendee called the sheriff out for the Nazi comparison, telling Curran that he “object[ed] personally to the hyperbole of bringing in Nazi Germany. We are not Nazis here,” he said.
Curran then tried to shift the debate away from driver’s licenses issue, saying he wasn’t prepared to talk about “this” issue. However, Curran was the only member of Illinois law enforcement to testify in favor of SB 957, which passed the state legislature last week and is now on its way to Gov. Pat Quinn, who plans to sign the bill into law.
Kelly noted this is not the first time Curran has made controversial statements on illegal immigration. In an interview with PBS' "Frontline" last year, Sheriff Curran said that America has “lured” illegal aliens here with false promises.
The pro-amnesty Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights (ICIRR) had been unsuccessful in previous attempts to pass driver’s license legislation in Illinois. This year ICIRR created a new organization called the Highway Safety Coalition to give Illinois lawmakers political cover.
According to Greg Sullivan, Executive Director of the Illinois Sheriffs Association, all but three Illinois sheriffs – Curran being one of the three – opposed SB 957. The Illinois Association of Police Chiefs also strongly opposed the bill, citing homeland security concerns. Many states have repealed similar driver’s license legislation due to widespread fraud. New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez says her state, which allows the licenses, has become a magnet for such fraud.
The bill gives the Illinois Secretary of State’s office rule-making discretion to determine the appearance of the licenses, which lawmakers say will be distinguished by a purple mark. But Illinois has had trouble with bribes-for-licenses for decades. In fact, employees of the Secretary of State's office are currently being investigated by the FBI in connection with a Chinatown driver’s license fraud ring.
Law enforcement says critical fingerprint biometrics and tax-identification requirements were stripped from the final version of SB 957. Proof of insurance is not a prerequisite to receive a license upfront. Consular documents will be taken as proof of identification and a valid passport is not required. Ironically, in 2006, the ICIRR released a statement saying these “foreign documents” were susceptible to fraud and contributed to the downfall of a similar program in Tennessee. That was when the ICIRR called themselves "The Common Good."
With law enforcement voicing its opposition, SB 957 was stalled in the house transportation committee until House Speaker Michael Madigan (D-IL) and Minority Leader Tom Cross (R-IL) rigged the committee, swapping out opposing members in order to ensure the bill would make it to the floor for a vote last Monday. The bill passed 64-46.
Only in Illinois.