New York City Gov. Eliot Spitzer announced Wednesday he was scrapping his plan to grant driver's licenses to illegal immigrants, saying overwhelming public opposition had destroyed the proposal's chances.
"It does not take a stethoscope to hear the pulse of New Yorkers on this topic," Spitzer said during a news conference in Washington, adding that "the legislative process and any number of mounting obstacles would have prevented us from moving forward."
Spitzer, a Democrat, proposed the initiative in September in an effort to improve safety in New York, home to more than 1 million undocumented immigrants - many of whom are driving without licenses. But a fierce backlash contributed to a drop in the governor's first-year approval ratings and distracted from Spitzer's larger political agenda.
About 70 percent of New Yorkers opposed the driver's license plan, according to a recent poll.
Spitzer argued that his licensing idea would have made it easier for law enforcement to keep the roads safe. But critics said it would make it easier for terrorists to blend into the city and would encourage more illegal immigrants to come to New York state.