Lawmakers divided on issuing driver's licenses to immigrants here illegally

April 24, 2019 10:56 PM

A renewed push to pass legislation that will allow illegal immigrants to get a driver's license in New York state is getting some push back.

Leaders and law enforcement from all across the Capital Region came together on Wednesday to speak out against the Green Light Bill - at the Rensselaer County DMV office.

New York allowed illegal immigrants to get drivers' licenses, but stopped that in 2002 following the attacks on the World Trade Center. There was a push back in 2007 to reverse that, but at the time, Republicans controlled the Senate. Now with Democratic control, they are attempting again and this bill has a lot of support -- but not from the officials who came together on Wednesday.

Senator Daphne Jordan led the charge, at one point saying the Green Light Bill should be called the "Red Light Bill" as in "stop it".

She was joined by leaders and law enforcement from Saratoga, Columbia and Rensselaer counties -- all of whom say if passed, it will endanger public safety.

"It's the clandestine act of giving a legal document to someone who is recognized as illegal," said Senator Jordan.

One of their arguments is about identity confirmation saying United States citizens have to show multiple proofs of identity, including a birth certificate or passport and Social Security number to obtain a permit or a license.

Illegal immigrants do not have Social Security numbers.

Under this legislation, their background information would be protected from law enforcement.

Jordan says she believes the public is misinformed about this legislation, going on to say it would pave the way for voter fraud, identity theft and bank fraud.

Bryan MacCormack is the Executive Director of the Columbia County Sanctuary Movement.

"The press conference today was full of misinformation and anti-immigrant xenophobia," said MacCormack.

MacCormack believes the bill has enough support to become law this session.

"I believe what we saw here today was a small local opposition from some of the most conservative in our state," said MacCormack.

When it comes to IDs, starting in October of next year, you'll need a new one if you plan to fly anywhere or go to any federal buildings.

The Enhanced License is what you want if you're driving or boating into the country. The Enhanced License or Real ID, will both work if you're flying domestically, but with these, you can't renew them online. You need to go to the DMV.

Before you go, make sure you have your current ID. You also need something to prove where you live, like a utility bill or bank statement. You will also need something that proves you're a citizen, like a passport.

You also need proof of your date of birth and Social Security status, so bring your birth certificate and Social Security card.

MORE INFORMATION: DMV: Driver licenses


WNYT Staff

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