Topeka Republican Jim Barnett is telling voters that illegal immigrants won't get driver's licenses if he's elected governor, but Gov. Kathleen Sebelius says a federal law prevents such a policy anyway.
Barnett has highlighted his stance in TV ads, and he has criticized Sebelius for her support in 2003 of an unsuccessful Kansas legislative proposal to allow illegal immigrants to obtain licenses.
But Sebelius spokeswoman Nicole Corcoran said Monday that the Democratic governor's past position isn't relevant because of the federal law. It's incorrect to suggest that Kansans could issue licenses to illegal immigrants, she said.
"The way that it's been characterized, unfortunately, makes it sound like a current debate," Corcoran said.
Barnett spokesman Rodger Woods questioned whether the federal law ends the debate, saying while it gives states incentives not to issue licenses to illegal immigrants, it doesn't ban the practice. And, he said, Sebelius' past position demonstrates how she's been out of step with Kansans on immigration issues.
"It's obvious that she's wrong and has been wrong on immigration issues," he said.
Starting in 2008, federal agencies won't treat a state's licenses as valid ID unless a state requires license applicants to document that they're living in the United States legally.
Lack of ID could prevent someone from entering a federal building or boarding a plane.