NY Senate votes to give undocumented immigrants driver licenses

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ALBANY, N.Y. (NEXSTAR) — The New York State Senate voted in favor of the Green Light bill Monday. The bill passed the Assembly last week. The bill allows undocumented immigrants to get a driver’s licenses.

It’s a day Green Light bill supporters have been waiting for.

“It has been hundreds and thousands of people from across the state impacted by this issue who are putting families at risk just trying to take their kids to school,” Anu Joshi, NY Immigration Coalition Senior Policy Director, said. 

Supporters say it will increase safety.

“All New Yorkers are better off when drivers on the road are tested, licensed and insured,” Joshi said. “This bill will allow undocumented immigrants to access and force them to pass a drivers test to register their car to insure their car.”

Opponents of the bill argue that it could have unintended consequences, and that it could make it easier for people who are undocumented to vote. A recent Siena College poll of 812 New York voters showed more people surveyed opposed than supported it.

But, advocates want the bill signed into law.

“We just need the Governor to follow through on the promise that he made when he said he supported this bill,” Joshi said.

Earlier Monday morning on WAMC radio, the Governor listed the issue as a top three priority for the end of session. But he did express concerns over whether the federal government would be able to access the data.

Counsel to the Governor sent the Solicitor General a letter asking for a legal opinion on the legislation. A statement from the Governor’s press office says he will sign it.  

Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins issued the following statement Monday night:

“Today, we passed legislation restoring the right for all qualified drivers to obtain drivers licenses regardless of immigration status. By passing this needed legislation, we are growing our economy while at the same time making our roads safer. This is the right step forward for New York State as we continue to advocate for comprehensive immigration reform on the federal level.”

Bill sponsor, Senator Luis Sepúlveda also issued a statement:

“This legislation will not only provide undocumented immigrants with a legal solution to obtain a driver’s license, but its positive impacts will include significant economic growth, improved road safety, and it will keep hardworking families together. Millions of dollars will be raised in revenue, auto insurance premiums will decrease, and local economies will see a boom as earnings and spending increase. In a time when immigrants are being scapegoated for every ill in our country, this is our opportunity for New York State to show our courage and strength, and stand up for the marginalized communities. For economic, safety, and moral reasons, our communities deserve the Green Light Bill.”

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