What happened
Hillary Clinton ignited fresh debate on immigration policy this week when she gave a qualified endorsement to New York Gov. Eliot Spitzer’s plan to offer driver’s licenses to illegal immigrants. Spitzer said his program would bring hundreds of thousands of drivers “out of the shadows,” improving road safety and bringing down insurance costs. But advocates of tougher immigration laws said the program would create new security nightmares.

What the commentators said
Clinton’s “dance” around this question at the most recent Democratic presidential debate was actually quite “reasonable,” said E.J. Dionne in The Washington Post (free registration). She said she understood what Spitzer was trying to do even though she didn’t back the specifics of his plan. Republicans are trying to exploit “impatience with immigration” to lure voters, so Clinton and everyone else in her party has to be very careful what they say on the issue.

“Spitzer’s well-intentioned plan ultimately sets a bad example,” said The Boston Globe in an editorial (free registration). Undocumented immigrants should be licensed so authorities can make sure they know how to “drive safely,” but Spitzer wants to establish a three-tiered set of licenses that will only create confusion. The federal government should take charge here, and “more paths to legalization so that the formerly undocumented can get licenses.”

There’s a reason Clinton likes Spitzer’s fuzzy idea, said John Fund in OpinionJournal.com. It is practically “an engraved invitation for people to commit voter fraud.” Clinton is “such a polarizing figure” that she can’t count on a majority of Americans to support her against any Republican candidate. Maybe that’s why she’s willing to “look the other way” if “non-citizens” want to sneak into voting booths on election day.