CNN: The Most Trusted Name in Viewer Hate Mail

I’ve spent the past month passionately defending the new DMV policy, and if one thing has become clear, it’s this: the other side could use a good public relations firm.

“It’s obvious that you’re Mexican and interested only in Mexican interests,” wrote one person who saw me on CNN’s Lou Dobbs Tonight last week. (I was born in the South Bronx, to Puerto Rican parents.)

Along the same lines: “Despite your assertions, your people are bastardizing American trades … So why don’t you go to Mexico, asshole, and stay. You are a traitor to the people of America.”

“We will de-rail the illegal gravy train from within,” had a nice ring to it.

“Hey, Asshole, I just wanted you to know your insistent ‘undocumented’ stance on Lou Dobbs Tonight is BS and these illegals you represent are truly ILLEGAL in my country, the USA, you piece of shit,” wrote another fan.

He continued, “Now you are pushing to overrun the USA with goddamn illiterate illegal aliens sucking off all the benefits they can get for free at my expense.”

My personal favorite: “I loved the way you tried to pull the wool over the eyes of Dobbs on his program, you jackass party people are such funny little liars. You need to go to Mexico to collect your pay check since you seem to be all for those undocumented, we call them illegals …”

As with most policy matters, there are legitimate concerns that straddle both sides. What makes the immigration debate so frightful is how quickly policy concerns turn into a kind of xenophobic rage.

The simple truth is that Governor Spitzer will not change the mind of a racist. But the new policy will make it safer for that racist to drive on the road, will save the racist a whole lot of money and will make our state a safer place to live.

Thanks to enhanced verification techniques, New York will have the most secure licensing system in the country. We are also going to save drivers an estimated $120 million by reducing the premium costs associated with uninsured motorist coverage.

The new policy will do nothing to increase the risk of another terrorist attack. The 9/11 Commission determined that restricting access to driver’s licenses based on immigration status would not have prevented the attacks.

In fact, in the long list of proposals to make the licensing system more secure, the Commission explicitly did not recommend denying driver’s licenses to undocumented immigrants as a measure that would prevent another attack.

The Commission did, however, recommend that states take immediate steps to increase the security of their licenses, which is an integral part of the Governor’s plan.

Critics are also claiming the new system prevents U.S. citizens from using driver’s licenses to board airplanes. Again, not true. Only in 2013, when the federal government imposes the REAL ID act will residents have to get new, federally-approved licenses.

As it stands right now, there is not a driver’s license in the country that conforms to the REAL ID guidelines. If you have a problem with the federal mandate, call your Congressman or President Bush.

But not Governor Spitzer.

He is charged with protecting the people who live in New York, and making sure that the federal government’s failure to reform our immigration laws does not spell disaster at the state level.

After all, as many as one million undocumented workers live in New York. Unless the Dobbs viewers have a plan for massive deportation – a plan that would ruin our state’s economy – then I suggest they spend more time crafting pragmatic solutions and less time with the hate-filled emails.

Senator José M. Serrano represents the 28th District, which includes parts of the South Bronx, Highbridge, University Heights, East Harlem, Yorkville, and Roosevelt Island.