Driver’s licenses approved for undocumented immigrants in NY

Staff Reports Posted 17 June 2019 at 10:46 pm

The State Senate followed the Assembly and has approved driver’s licenses for undocumented immigrants.

The Senate narrowly approved the legislation today, 33-29, following the Assembly’s vote last week. Gov. Andrew Cuomo is expected to sign the “Driver’s License Access and Privacy Act” tonight. The legislation is known as Green Light NY.

It restores the right to obtain a license, regardless of immigration status, that existed prior to 2001.

“Today, we passed legislation restoring the right for all qualified drivers to obtain drivers’ licenses regardless of immigration status,” said Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins. “By passing this needed legislation, we are growing our economy while at the same time making our roads safer. This is the right step forward for New York State as we continue to advocate for comprehensive immigration reform on the federal level.”

The Driver’s License Access and Privacy Act will allow non-commercial driver license or learner’s permit applicants to be able to submit additional proofs of identity to be eligible for a non-federal license. It also waives the social security number requirement if the applicant signs an affidavit that they have not been issued a social security number and provides the DMV with discretion to approve additional proofs of identity and age. Further, this legislation will protect the data of the applicants from unwarranted release.

State Sen. Robert Ortt, R-North Tonawanda, opposed the legislation.

“While middle-class New Yorkers struggle to pay their bills, put food on the table for their families, and send their kids to college, Albany Democrats have once again chosen to prioritize illegal aliens and those who have broken our laws by passing the most radical, pro-illegal legislation in the nation,” Ortt said in a statement this evening. “Against the overwhelming objections of our police, our county clerks, and our taxpayers, Senate Democrats have once again illustrated that they do not serve the people of New York. A majority of New Yorkers don’t want this legislation because it raises serious safety and voting fraud concerns, but mostly because it – at its basic core – undermines federal law and the sanctity of our borders.”

This legislation provides additional government revenue, supports New York businesses and increases road safety, proponents of the bill said.

Statewide, the Fiscal Policy Institute estimates that this legislation will result in $83.9 million in government revenues over the first three years and $6.4 million in recurring revenue thereafter. In a statement of support, the Business Council of New York State said that this legislation is “an opportunity to increase these New Yorkers’ ability to support local employers and businesses.”

In Connecticut, where a similar policy was implemented four years ago, there have been almost 4,000 fewer unlicensed driving convictions and hit-and-run crashes have dropped 9 percent between 2016 and 2018,according to the NY Senate majority.

“We are pleased to see that State and private companies stand to benefit from increased economic activity as those who want to obtain a license and drive can do so by paying the same fees and insurance costs as all other New Yorkers,” said Heather Briccetti, President/CEO of The Business Council of New York State. “We still believe comprehensive immigration reform is a crucial federal issue that lawmakers in Washington must address.”

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