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Dear Editor:
I am an attorney practicing in Philadelphia, and I wanted to bring your attention to a recent law signed by the PA Governor which highlights one of the most unpleasant aspects of the 'war on terror.' In Pennsylvania, the Department of Motor Vehicles has begun to cooperate with INS by denying driver's licenses to individuals who cannot present a valid visa or green card. Admittedly, this is a measure drawn narrowly enough to serve an important goal i.e. assuring that those who apply for licenses are lawfully present in this country and, by extension, do not pose a security risk. I have no problem with the state mandate in this regard.

However, we were informed yesterday that, pursuant to a new law, licenses will now carry a notation that the bearer is either a 'citizen' or a 'non-citizen.' Accordingly, permanent resident 'green card holders' will be subject to identification on their licenses as 'non-citizens.' Many will ask where the harm lies.

I object to this measure on the grounds that it has no rational relation to the avowed public interest i.e. the protection and promotion of national security. Permanent residents are neither more nor less likely to be terrorists than their citizen counterparts, and this new law amounts, in my opinion, to a "scarlet letter". While one could argue that we need to keep tabs on visitors, students and all others who are in transit in this country, there is absolutely no reason whatsoever to stigmatize permanent residents who differ only from citizens in their inability to vote. When asked the purpose of the law, state administrators were unable to come up with any cogent reasons. Many will disagree with me; some have already praised the move as a step in the right direction. I beg to differ, vehemently. I would venture to say that there are a number of permanent residents who are more attached to this country and loyal to its principles than many native-born. Ask John Walker Linde.

Christine M. Flowers
Philadelphia, PA