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Group Lobbies For Tougher Requirements For Driver's License

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RALEIGH, N.C. — Peter Gadiel was just another visitor to the state legislative building on Thursday.

The "911" stamped on his lapel button indicated that he was there for a reason: the state's driver's license law.

Gadiel's son, James, was working on the 103rd floor of the World Trade Center north tower when terrorists struck. Now, as a member of the 911 Families For A Secure America, his mission is to educate the public about lax driver's license laws.

"The valid ID that got them on the planes on those days was, for the most part, driver's licenses from Virginia and Florida," Gadiel said. "They just as well could have been from North Carolina because North Carolina's laws are just as lax."

Following Sept. 11, 2001, North Carolina tightened the requirements for a driver's license. Critics say those requirements aren't tough enough. They want a new law that requires at least a valid Social Security number or other proof that the applicant is in this country legally."

Andrea Bazan-Manson of the El Pueblo Organization doesn't necessarily think changing the law is the answer.

"First and foremost, these are the largest groups of immigrants in North Carolina," Bazan-Manson said. "None of them were terrorists. None of them want to be terrorists. We're all concerned about national security."

Two antiterrorism bills tied to the state driver's license requirements have yet to be heard. According to Gadiel, the sooner they are heard, the better.

"It's the terrorist tool," Gadiel said. "And North Carolina's got to join almost all the other states and change the law."

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