GRAFTON, Mass. - Reacting to news that President Barack Obama's uncle was granted a hardship license so he can continue to work as manager of a Grafton liquor store, state Rep. George N. Peterson Jr. joined House Republican leadership in calling for a review of state measures involving the driving and employment privileges of illegal immigrants.
Peterson, R-Grafton, was surprised on Tuesday when he learned that Onyango Obama, the half-brother of the president's late father, who was arrested for drunk driving in August, was given a hardship license by the Registry of Motor Vehicles so he could continue working for Conti Liquors of Framingham. Even more surprising: the registry noted that Obama would be working as a manager of Five Star Liquors in Grafton, along with a Framingham liquor store.
Obama has been summonsed to the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement in Burlington next week to arrange his pending deportation. Obama, a Kenyan citizen, has been living in the country illegally since 1963 and was ordered deported in 1992.
In a letter to Governor Deval Patrick co-signed by Peterson, House Minority Leader Bradley H. Jones, Jr. and other members of the House Republican Leadership, the case was cited as part of a demand to immediately review the state Registry of Motor Vehicles' process when approving and renewing drivers' licenses.
"As we are sure you are well aware, recent media events surrounding the arrest of Onyango Obama, an illegal immigrant, have illuminated gaping holes in our state’s procedures for the issuance and renewal of driver’s licenses," the letter reads. "As recently as yesterday, Mr. Obama, who was previously arrested for driving under the influence, was granted a hardship license and had his driving privileges reinstated- albeit restricted. This has raised concerns for us and the residents of our districts relative to the current licensing procedure."
The legislators are also requesting a review of the current procedures for Massachusetts’ businesses to confirm the immigration status of individuals applying for employment. The letter states that current resources for businesses are "meager at best."
"Governor Patrick, we owe it to the residents and taxpayers of the great state of Massachusetts to ensure that we, as public officials, are doing all that we can to protect their safety and best interests," the letter reads. "By taking the initial step to review the current practices implemented by state agencies, we will be in better in a better position to make recommendations for reform, if needed."