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Today I want to talk to you about Maine’s Driver’s Licenses.

But first, let me just say that in our State we have some of the most terrific people, the most welcoming people, and people who are like family to all of us.

I’m thinking of the area in Aroostook County, where when I first campaigned and locked my car door, people said, “Don’t do that,” because people will think that you’re from away or you have something to hide.

Or how many stories of the families that don’t have a key to the front door because they’ve never locked it before.

We’re a very trusting people. We’re people who reach out and make sure we support each other.

But at the same time, the world is coming to Maine and we have got to be on our guard more than we have in the past.

And it’s been too easy to get a driver’s license, and has the potential to cause an awful lot of trouble.

The pace and the change of the world around us, there are too many people now who are willing to “game” the system for illegal purposes.

So right now I’ve introduced Legislation and it’s before the Legislature - two significant changes to the requirements for getting a driver’s license. So that when you renew your license or you’re going to get a new license in Maine, you’re going to have different certifications to enforce restrictions around making sure that people are legal residents in Maine and they have a residency here in the State.

Criminals from New York and Boston are bringing van-loads of people to Maine for the sole purpose of getting a driver’s license.

They don’t intend to live here or move here. But they understand all too well that a valid driver’s license has become “the keys to the kingdom.”

At a time, a driver’s license was simply a license to drive a car. But it has become much more.

It allows us to get on airplanes, to cash checks, to open bank accounts. It makes hundreds of daily business and personal transactions possible.

Maine cannot continue its practice of handing out driver’s licenses at will to people who shouldn’t be qualified to get one.

There are horrible examples of abuse. One man from Ireland came to Maine, got a driver’s license he should never have received and used it to buy a gun. He later used that gun to rob a bank.

Maybe this man would have gotten a gun anyway, and maybe the driver’s license had little to do with his criminal behavior, but having the driver’s license made it easier for him.

His actions put countless people – including bank patrons, workers and police officers – in danger needlessly.

We have to add a residency requirement to our driver’s license.

But that alone is not enough.

We need to make sure that people from other countries who are in the United States illegally can’t get a Maine driver’s license.

Right now, illegal aliens are brought north to Maine by crooks and con men to get a driver’s license. With that, they can skirt the law more easily and a dangerous, underground economy can continue to grow.

I have submitted legislation that would put an end to the State’s practice of granting driver’s licenses to illegal aliens. If you want a Maine credential, you should be able to demonstrate that you’re in this country legally.

Maine is the only state in New England that gives illegal aliens a driver’s license. In fact, Maine is just one of six states in the entire country that sanctions the practice.

It must end.

Maine cannot remain an island apart from the rest of our region and most of the country. It’s not acceptable, and we should have taken action before now to end the practice.

The issues around Maine’s driver’s license have attracted a lot of attention due to the national debate about REAL ID and Maine’s fight against the program.

Maine will not comply with the parts of REAL ID that our State finds objectionable.

The changes in driver’s license rules I’ve proposed won’t create a “national ID card,” and won’t be sending information about our State’s legal drivers to any national databases.

Just like we do now, we will safeguard the security of drivers’ personal information, and we will fight any effort to turn our State credentials into a national ID card.

The Homeland Security Department was absolutely right when it pointed out the gaps in Maine’s current driver’s license law.

If Mainer’s want their driver’s licenses to be accepted by federal agencies, including the screeners at airports, then we must make sure they are more secure and limit who is eligible to receive them.

Maine’s laws are too lax around driver’s licenses. Right now we’re giving our credentials to people who shouldn’t have them and that has to stop.

As I said before Maine is a welcoming place to live and visit. We don’t discriminate against folks regardless of their race, gender, sexual orientation, religion or place of birth.

But it is absolutely appropriate to limit who qualifies for a driver’s license. If you want a Maine driver’s license, then you should live in Maine and you should be here legally.

That’s not too much to ask.

Thank you.

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