So your editorial page objects to a new Virginia law designed to prevent illegal immigrants from securing driver's licenses, because that law will create "whole new spheres of criminal activity" [editorial, May 17]. The editorial contends that "since" the law was passed, black-market identity document scams "have multiplied." The editorial's primary evidence of an increase in such scams is a recent announcement by Virginia officials that they have "invalidated more than 1,000 licenses that had been purchased illegally from two motor vehicle clerks in Tysons Corner."

But your objection to the license law suffers from a factual error.

As your Metro section explained in a news article on May 12, the two DMV clerks "were convicted in federal court last year of selling licenses to drivers who could not provide proper paperwork." The scam, which involved the falsification of documents to make it appear as though applicants had provided valid out-of-state licenses, took place from 1998 until the clerks' arrest in July 2003. The new license law did not take effect until Jan. 1.

Your editors may not approve of Virginia's policy banning the issuance of drivers licenses to illegal immigrants, but the commonwealth's new law has nothing to do with the Tysons Corner scam.

-- Phillip C. Hughey

Washington