New York county clerks reject new state law allowing undocumented immigrants apply driver’s licenses

New York Sample Driver's License
Source: New York State DMV

A number of county clerks in the State of New York are refusing to comply with the Green Light bill, which allows undocumented immigrants to apply for driver’s licenses.

According to the New York Post, clerks in Allegany, Erie, Niagara and Rensselae vowed to reject driver’s license applications by undocumented immigrants. They explained that the Green Light bill contradicts other laws.

County clerk’s argument against Green Light bill

Erie County Clerk Michael Kerns told the Post, “In the memo of the bill, they talk about the reason why they’re passing this bill is to make sure that people who are here illegally can get to and from work. It is illegal to hire people in the state of New York or anywhere that are here illegally. There’s an inconsistency there.”

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Kerns said motor vehicle agencies in the Buffalo area will instruct undocumented immigrants to submit their applications for driver’s licenses at the state-run Department of Motor Vehicle (DMV) in Syracuse. He recognized the fact that Gov. Andrew Cuomo can fire him from his position.

More than 50 percent of New Yorkers oppose giving undocumented immigrants the right to have driver’s licenses, according to a recent survey released by Sienna College.

Green Light bill will help New York improve public safety

On Monday, Gov. Cuomo signed the Green Light bill into law after Attorney General Letitia James confirmed that it has “safeguards” and it “cannot be weaponized to be used against undocumented individuals.”

The Governor was concerned that immigration authorities could use the information collected from driver’s licenses applications to deport undocumented immigrants.

Alphonso David, the Governor’s Counsel said, “The key to this bill is not the political intent but the legal effect. We hope the Attorney General’s assessment is correct for the safety of the thousands of undocumented individuals who are relying on her legal opinion.”

On the other hand, State Senator Luis Sepúlveda, the sponsor of the bill, commented, “This legislation will not only provide undocumented immigrants with a legal solution to obtain a driver’s license, but its positive impacts will include significant economic growth, improved road safety, and it will keep hardworking families together. Millions of dollars will be raised in revenue, auto insurance premiums will decrease, and local economies will see a boom as earnings and spending increase.”