Why Are 400,000 Illegal Aliens In Washington State Driving With Licenses?

In, My Life as an Undocumented Immigrant, [NYT, June 22, 2011] illegal-alien, journalist Jose Antonio Vargas revealed his story of coming to America and his trail of lies and law-breaking. Vargas generated much ado in the Main Stream Media with his story. Unfortunately, the ado skipped the significance of the importance of obtaining a driver’s license.

But Vargas understood. In his story, he noted that a friend in Oregon allowed him to use his address as proof of residency: “The license meant everything to me—it would let me drive, fly and work.”

Subsequent to Vargas obtaining an Oregon license, the state tightened up and Vargas had to find a state with laxer rules. In January 2011, he obtained a Washington State license.

The Washington State media paid shamefully little attention to the license issue. The Seattle Times reported that a Department of Licensing spokesperson said that Vargas presented a valid Social Security number and an Oregon license. [Journalist says he's an illegal immigrant, 22, 2011]]But in his autobiographical self-outing, Vargas revealed that the Social Security number had been obtained by his grandfather many years prior using a fraudulant passport and visa. Moreover, Vargas does not live now nor has he ever lived in Washington—he used the North Seattle address of a friend.

Does it matter? Yes, it does. But the Washington Department of Licensing (DOL) does not care because you don't have to be in the country legally to obtain a license in Washington. In the Seattle Times story, the DOL spokesperson said

"The department could take a range of actions from canceling Vargas' license to doing nothing, Anthony said.

'Since legal presence isn't a requirement in our state,' she said, 'we wouldn't be concerned about that part, but we would be concerned about fraudulent documents.'"

Just how many illegal aliens might have Washington State licenses? In early 2011, DOL released a list showing a total of 350,353 drivers who obtained their licenses without divulging a Social Security number - if ever they possessed one. At a town hall meeting in March, Washington State Senator Mary Margaret Haugen, who chairs the state Transportation Committee, said that the number is over 400,000.

Folks without Social Security numbers may be legally resident—but the surnames on the state list suggest that many are not.

They are predominately Hispanic. For example, there are 1,398 folks with the last name Alvarez; 1,748 Diaz, 2,216 Gomez and 7,088 with Garcia.

To be fair, not all have Hispanic last names. Chen's numbered 691, Campbell 83, Ali 95, Smith 546, Aayed 1, Hakim 4, Miller 243, Yegorov 1, Zawadzki 4, Jefferson 34, and Washington 52.

Out of 350,383!

To obtain a Washington State license, one supposedly must prove identity. The requirements can be read at this website:WA State Licensing: Proof of identity—driver license.

Among many forms of identification, Washington State accepts “multiple documents issued by: the Mexican government and the Guatemalan government.” Besides identification, the state DOL website says that the applicant must have a Social Security number…but not really.

The DOL website says that if the applicant does not have a Social Security number, then proof of Washington state residence must be presented. Some of the acceptable documents are a gas, electric or garbage bill. To be extra secure, the state does not accept cable, internet or satellite TV bills.

Dear reader, in case you missed this: An illegal alien just needs a Mexican or Guatemalan ID and a garbage bill to obtain a driver’s license in Washington State.

Is the commonly-used Mexican Matricula Consular a reliable means of identification? On June 26, 2003, Steven C. McCraw of the FBI testified that it was not before the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Immigration Border, Security, and Claims. He said in part:

“The Department of Justice and the FBI have concluded that the Matricula Consular is not a reliable form of identification, due to the non-existence of any means of verifying the true identity of the card holder.”

In his testimony, McCraw also said that, once in possession of a driver’s license, a criminal can use it for money-laundering and check fraud. McCraw testified that federal officials have identified people from many other countries who possess Mexican Matricula Consular cards.

Immigration enthusiasts might think this is no big deal—but illegal aliens who possess driver licenses are a big deal.

For example, all one needs to register to vote on-line is a valid license number. Non-citizens, both legal and illegal, are voting in Washington. This is a subject on appeal to the Supreme Court of Washington State, Ringhofer v. Ridge.

In addition, a license can be used to board airplanes. Everyone knows the problems with that. Not all illegal aliens are hijackers but many are drug dealers, child molestors (103 now incarcerated in the Wash. State Penitentiary), murderers and general all-round unsavory characters. Having identification eases their life of crime.

For example: On May 12, 2011, Alberto Avila-Cardenas was arrested and charged with 3 counts of first degree murder of three Hispanic co-workers. Avila-Cardenas is a Mexican citizen who lives illegally in the U.S. Court documents implicate him in a dismemberment murder in Mexico. Was Avila-Cardenas issued a Washington State driver license? Was his travel inside the United States facilitated by such a Washington State driver license? Mexican citizen charged with slayings of 3 Pierce County men, By Jennifer Sullivan, Seattle Times , May 12, 2011

Even with a full-fledged driver license, how would an illegal alien get a job in Washington State minus a Social Security number?

Answer: all employers must complete Form I-9 "Employment Eligibility Verification" for their files and an improbable ICE audit. A state driver license can be used as the I-9's "B" category ID document establishing "identity". But that new hire still needs a Social Security Number as the I-9's "C" category document. Which means that in Washington State illegals must present only one piece of fake ID: the Social Security card! If employers used E-Verify then illegals would be thwarted from even that crime.

If these hardened criminals were denied state driver licenses, then their free ranging across America would be stiffled. Other acceptable forms of identification listed on the I-9 application include: permanent resident card, alien registration card, foreign passport with visa, Employment Authorization Document that contains a photograph (Form I-766)… the list goes on. Illegal aliens do not possess these documents.

Avila-Cardenas used a 9 mm handgun to kidnap and execute his hand-tied victims. To possess a handgun in Washington State, an alien must be in the U.S. legally and must present a passport, visa and alien firearm license. King County Jail records and court documents identify Avila-Cardena as unlawfully present in the United States.

[WA State Licensing: Requirements—Alien Firearms License]

Therefore, Avila-Cardenas either stole the weapon or purchased it illegally as he did not possess a license to carry a firearm. In fact, in December 2010 he was arrested by Lakewood, Washington, police “for being an alien in possession of a firearm.”

When Avila-Cardenas was interrogated by police about the December 12th disappearance of the three victims, he claimed that he was in California through Dec. 12th. Unfortunately for him, at the time he claimed to be in California, he was stopped for speeding on I-5 northbound near Medford, Oregon on Dec. 7th. His alibi was also shattered by Dec. 7th motel records in King County [Seattle]. If Avila-Cardenas is an illegal alien, then how did he escape charges of driving without a license in Medford, Oregon? Could he have escaped scrutiny because the accused actually possessed a geniune Washington State driver license? So, is Washington State an accessory to murder for empowering this Mexican hitman with a travel document? Had he been stopped in Medford and cited for driving without a license he would have been given a free ride to the local county jail. Then corrections staff or a visiting ICE agent would have done a check on him, found him to be in the country illegally and put an immigration hold on him. Three Hispanicfamilies are today missing brothers, fathers and husbands because that did not happen.

Fortunately, Avila-Cardenas is now in jail, on ICE hold and charged with 3 counts of kidnap and murder. But that does not help his victims. According to a relative of one of his victims, Avila-Cardenas may also be involved in a dismemberment murder in Mexico. Additionally, Avila-Cardenas threatened to murder his current female friend if she talked to police. Even his mother threatened to murder the woman if she talked to police. Additionally, Avila-Cardenas has two children by another woman  to whom he is not married. The criminal Information reads like pulp fiction. [Download Information charging Avila-Cardenas(PDF)]

Lakewood Police have relayed conflicting reports on the immigration status of the victims. The cousin of one murder victim may have shot Avila-Cardenas in the foot in a Lakewood, Washington shootout. In that incident, two people were killed. Revenge may have been Avila-Cardenas’ motive.

Subsequent to the arrest of Avila-Cardenas, another man, Jose Velez-Fombona, was arrested in connection with the three murders. King County Jail records also show an immigration hold.

...And here is another story: about a Mr. Soto, who is finally being released from jail after serving time for child molestation. His attorney says he is going back to Mexico for good. According to the story, Mr. Soto’s wife so severely beat her daughter that it caused brain injury. Did the Sotos have driver licenses? Who knows? [Deportee going back to Mexico for good, lawyer says,By Chris Bristol, Yakima Herald-Republic, June 22, 2011]

Illegal immigration is not a victimless crime. And the stealing of American jobs is the least of it. Yes, some of the 400,000 driver licensees without Social Security numbers are legally resident, but likely most are not.

What a shameful and dangerous situation! But government officials in both Washingtons clearly want this to continue. Why?

Linda Thom [email her] is a retiree and refugee from California. She formerly worked as an officer for a major bank and as a budget analyst for the County Administrator of Santa Barbara.