NY Assembly votes in favor of driver's licenses for undocumented immigrants

June 12, 2019 11:17 PM

ALBANY, N.Y. (AP/WNYT) - The New York state Assembly has passed legislation permitting driver's licenses for immigrants who entered the country illegally.
The Assembly passed the bill Wednesday on a preliminary vote of 86-47.

Assemblywoman Pat Fahy, who is the daughter of immigrant parents, voted in favor of the bill.

“I do think it will make for safer roads, it will help with better insurance coverage for uninsured drivers and I do understand the need in upstate where there are not better transportation alternatives,” explained Fahy (D).

Fahy said she has been on the fence about the bill, but what changed her mind was the changes made that she asked for.

“Really pin down some of the documentation requirements as well as law enforcement access should they be pulling over someone who is undocumented and even the font size that will say this is not for federal purposes,” said Fahy.

The legislation expands the types of identity that applicants submit with an application for a non-commercial driver’s license. Also, applicants without a social security number could submit a signed affidavit that they have not been issued one.

Assemblyman Angelo Santabarbara is also the son of immigrant parents. He said they went through a long process to become citizens, which is why he said he couldn’t support this bill.

“A bill like this sort of just bypasses the immigration process, goes right to offering rights and privileges that are reserved for citizens.”

Santabarbara said he found a number of issues with the bill and he said this may not be something that should be done on a state level.

“If there’s changes that need to be made to the immigration process that really needs to happen at the federal level,” said Santabarbara.

However, Fahy said the federal government currently isn’t doing enough for those looking to become citizens.

“They’re paralyzed,” said Fahy. “So in the meantime we need to make the right decisions to make sure we have the safer roads and try to do what we can given the paralysis in Washington.”

No vote has been scheduled in the Senate, and with lawmakers set to adjourn for the year next week, time may be running out.
The bill is backed by the Business Council of New York State, the state's largest business organization, and Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo says he'll sign it if it passes.

Twelve states already permit driver's licenses for immigrants who entered the U.S. illegally.



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