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Illegal Immigrants to Obtain Driver’s Licenses in NY after Failed Legal Challenge

Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed the Green Light Law earlier this year.

 on 15th December 2019 @ 9.00pm
in june  an upstate new york clerk attempted to fight the law © press
In June, an Upstate New York clerk attempted to fight the law.

Illegal immigrants in New York will be allowed to obtain driver’s licenses after a legal challenge was dismissed, making it the 13th state to allow the practice.

Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed the Green Light Law earlier this year.

The bill, A03675B, also known as the "Driver's License Access and Privacy Act," passed the Democratically-controlled lower chamber of the New York State Legislature with a vote of 86-47.

Illegal immigrants will be able to use a combination of documents that include a valid passport from a foreign country along with a valid foreign driver’s license.

New York Immigration Coalition Executive Director Steve Choi said in a statement:

After waiting 18 years to have their right to drive restored, thanks to our legislature, New York can now officially join 12 other states in making driver’s licenses legally available to all residents."

erie county clerk michael  mickey  kearns attempted to fight the law © press
Erie County Clerk Michael 'Mickey' Kearns attempted to fight the law

"This is a major step forward for all New Yorkers as we keep building New York to live up to its full potential of equity, opportunity, and justice," said State Sen. Luis Sepúlveda (D-Bronx).

"We also look forward to the significant economic and safety benefits the law will bring to communities across our state."

In June, an Upstate New York clerk attempted to fight the law.

Erie County Clerk Michael "Mickey" Kearns sent a letter to the Erie County Attorney's Office, seeking legal representation.

"As I understand it, this Act requires that, as an agent of the Department of Motor Vehicles, I will be compelled to give driver's licenses to illegal immigrants," he wrote.

"I will not be granting driver's licenses to illegal immigrants."

Kearns requested legal determination from the federal court as to what his rights are as a clerk and whether he could be compelled to enforce the state law over what he views as a violation of federal law.

an estimate by the fiscal policy institute that approximately 265 000 illegal immigrants in new york will get driver s licenses © press
An estimate by the Fiscal Policy Institute that approximately 265,000 illegal immigrants in New York will get driver's licenses

"My concern is that, after 9/11, New York state put a prohibition on illegals having driving licenses and now with REAL ID in 2005 after we were attacked there will be a gap from today to Oct. 1 that anyone who is here illegally can get into a federal building and can fly on our airplanes and cross our border," he said Saturday.

The latest challenge by Rensselaer County Clerk Frank Merola was dismissed after a judge ruled that he had not demonstrated a “cognizable injury," according to he Wall Street Journal.

“To the dissatisfaction of the parties and public-at-large, courts are at times unable to pass upon the merits of a case for one reason or another,” the judge wrote.

An estimate by the Fiscal Policy Institute that approximately 265,000 illegal immigrants in New York will get driver's licenses in the next three years, the Associated Press reported.

"I am now going to have to accept a report card from a foreign country and ... a foreign passport as authenticated documents. I myself as the clerk am going to have to do that," Kearns said.

"We used to have to rely on a third party, the fed government, to do that, so they have diminished a New York driver's license, and we are very concerned for our safety and security because western New York is a border to Canada."

The Cuomo administration stated clerks could not choose to ignore the law.

“Local officials, including the county clerks who run DMV offices, cannot choose which laws they like and which they will disregard,” Department of Motor Vehicles spokeswoman Lisa Koumjian said in a statement.

“If a clerk is unwilling to follow state law, he or she should resign their office.”

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