This month New York will become the 13th state in the U.S. to give illegal immigrants driver’s licenses and officials in counties throughout the Empire State warn they are not equipped to handle the predicted onslaught. One state lawmaker is offering free care for the children of illegal aliens who attend a workshop to help them navigate the process of obtaining a license. More than half a million undocumented immigrants are expected to qualify and all they need is an expired passport, consulate identification or license from their country of citizenship.
Local Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) clerks throughout New York are deeply concerned about their ability to authenticate the unfamiliar documents—written in foreign languages—acceptable under the new law to obtain a license. One county clerk in the state’s eastern region said in a local news report that his office, which services a population of about 160,000, will not issue licenses to illegal aliens and instead will let the state deal with the applicants. “They want to us to make a decision right at the window as to whether something is fraudulent or acceptable,” Rensselaer County Clerk Frank Merola said in the article. “I’m not going to make a major mistake.” In the state’s southern tier, Chemung County Clerk Catherine Hughes blasted lawmakers for leaving her and her colleagues to deal with the mess. “They don’t really realize the ramifications that it causes by doing something like this,” said Hughes, who serves a population of about 90,000. “There are no set of rules and regulations on how to get it done. And that puts us county clerks in a very precarious situation because we don’t know how to do it.”
Officials in some New York counties have filed lawsuits to block the measure, officially called the Driver’s license Access and Privacy Act but popularly known as the Green Light Law, from being implemented. It was passed by the legislature over the summer and signed by Governor Andrew Cuomo after he was assured federal immigration officials would not be able to obtain DMV records. That’s where the “privacy” portion of the bill’s language comes in. Officials in several counties—including Erie, Monroe and Rensselaer—are suing to thwart the law, which is scheduled to take effect on December 14. New York State Senator Julia Salazar, a former community organizer and proud member of the Democratic Socialists of America, announced this week that she is holding an “informational session” to guide illegal immigrants through the process of obtaining a license. Free childcare will be provided, according to the announcements, which were issued in English and Spanish.
Besides New York, a dozen states and the District of Columbia have enacted laws to allow illegal immigrants to obtain driver’s licenses, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. They include California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Maryland, New Mexico, Nevada, Utah, Vermont and Washington. More than half of the states passed their measures in 2013. In 2019 several states—including Florida, Kansas, Minnesota and North Carolina—introduced legislation to grant illegal aliens driver’s licenses, but those haven’t been resolved and it’s not clear if they’ll pass. This week the Department of Justice (DOJ) challenged New York’s soon-to-be-implemented measure, writing in a federal court filing that it conflicts with federal law.
New York is also undermining national security, according to a report published by a Washington D.C. think tank dedicated to researching U.S. immigration policy. New York’s Green Light Law equips illegal aliens and others with nefarious intentions with legitimate, state-issued identification, prohibits federal authorities from using information maintained by the state’s DMV and inhibits public safety as well as immigration enforcement. “The federal government should not simply surrender to the unreasonable and potentially unconstitutional limitations imposed on federal immigration and local law enforcement agencies by this law,” the Center for Immigration Studies (CIS) writes in its extensive report, which includes ideas to circumvent New York’s law. Among them is withholding federal funding and taking legal action. Over the summer a federal appellate court ruled that the Trump administration could withhold federal funding to local governments that offer illegal immigrants sanctuary.