Illegal Immigrants Soon Eligible for Driver’s License in New York

NEW YORK—Illegal immigrants in New York will get the green light for a state driver’s license on Dec. 16.

The “Green Light Law” narrowly passed the Democratic-majority Senate in June. It allows illegal immigrants without a social security number to apply for a state-level driver’s license while shielding their information from immigration enforcement agencies.

Sponsor of the bill Sen. Luis Sepúlvida (D) said he introduced the legislation to help working families and enhance road safety. The law was designed to prohibit the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) from giving applicant information to Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) or similar agencies without a court order.

ICE Arrests Undocumented Immigrants In NYC
U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), officers process detained illegal immigrants on April 11, 2018 at the U.S. Federal Building in lower Manhattan, New York City. (John Moore/Getty Images)

The DMV confirmed to NTD News that it won’t verify translated foreign documents with their countries of origin. As long as the applicant provides enough documentation, he or she can obtain a driver license.

Professor of Political Sciences Nicholas Giordano from Suffolk County Community College told NTD News that he believes the law “presents a very big national security risk.”

“It’s not like their names are gonna be cross-referenced with any of the federal government agencies or departments in order to check for any potential red flags, maybe ties to terrorism, whether or not they’re legally here,” the professor said.

County Clerks Respond

Under the new law, the DMV is also required to notify the card holder within three days if ICE somehow obtains their information. A few county clerks are suing Governor Cuomo for this reason.

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo (L) and New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio listens to questions from reporters during a press conference to discuss Amazon’s decision to bring a new corporate location to New York City in New York City on Nov. 13, 2018. (Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

They say the law essentially helps illegal immigrants avoid federal authorities.

The Justice Department has since submitted a Memorandum in Support for County Clerk Frank Merola who filed a lawsuit in July.

“These aspects of the Act are legally suspect,” the report states.

According to the Fiscal Policy Institute, the Green Light Law is estimated to provide approximately 265,000 people driver licenses.

The licenses given out, however, will be labeled “not for federal purposes,” which means they can’t be used for things like boarding a flight or entering federal buildings.