You are reading

Cuomo Signs Bill Granting Undocumented Immigrants Ability to Get a Driver’s License

Gov. Andrew Cuomo

June 18, 2019 By Meghan Sackman

Governor Andrew Cuomo signed into law Monday a bill that will allow undocumented immigrants to obtain a driver’s license.

Cuomo signed the bill shortly after it passed narrowly in the state senate yesterday, by a vote of 33 to 29. The bill passed the Assembly last week.

The Driver’s License Access and Privacy Act, sponsored by State Sen. Luis Sepúlveda and backed by senators Mike Gianaris and Joseph Addabbo Jr., passed after fierce debate.

Opponents of the law argue that it gives the undocumented the privileges that should be bestowed upon those who are here legally. With the undocumented being able to use foreign documents to apply for a license, some opponents are also concerned about fraud. Others cite the potential for voter fraud.

Supporters of the controversial bill say the new law is necessary so undocumented immigrants can get to their jobs and access healthcare. Furthermore, many undocumented immigrants drive anyway.

Supporters also argue that there will be fewer unlicensed and uninsured drivers on the road, making the roads less dangerous. Additionally, the new law will bring in state revenue, with $84 million expected to come in over the first three years.

Queens representative State Senator Mike Gianaris, who has been a long-time advocate for the bill, voiced his support during yesterday’s senate session.

Gianaris, after a two hour debate, praised the senate as he voted in favor of the bill.

“I am proud to help lead a Senate that finally stands for justice,”Gianaris said. “I will continue to fight against gross, anti-immigrant rhetoric that dehumanizes immigrants who make our state the remarkable, diverse center of the world that it is.”

Applicants will be able to use foreign documents to get a license. These include an unexpired passport from the country of citizenship or a foreign driver’s license. The legislation will require the applicant to sign an affidavit that they have not received a Social Security number.

The license would have a stamp on it indicating that it is not eligible for federal identification and would not allow the license holder to vote.

Governor Cuomo, who has been a long time supporter of the bill, did waver on his decision based on the concern that the law might essentially be giving a list of undocumented immigrants to the federal government. Cuomo’s qualms were eased after being reassured by state Solicitor General Barbara Underwood that there would be protections.

Under the legislation, license holders must be notified within three days if any request is made to see their personal files. A court order would have to be filed in order for the state to release the personal information to the federal government.

The law will go into effect in 180 days, making New York the 13th state in the U.S. to allow undocumented immigrants to obtain a driver’s license.

email the author: [email protected]

One Comment

Click for Comments 
Joe S

As a citizen driver I don”t believe I get notified within 3 days of a government agency looking for my records.
Why are they special?

Reply

Leave a Comment
Reply to this Comment

All comments are subject to moderation before being posted.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.

Recent News

Op-ed: An urgent call for revising NY’s criminal justice reforms to protect public safety

Apr. 11, 2024 By Council Member Robert Holden

In 2019, the State Legislature and Governor Andrew Cuomo embarked on a controversial overhaul of New York’s criminal justice system by enacting several laws, including cashless bail and sweeping changes to discovery laws. Simultaneously, the New York City Council passed laws that compounded these challenges, notably the elimination of punitive segregation in city jails and qualified immunity for police officers. These actions have collectively undermined public safety and constrained law enforcement effectiveness.

Young man sought for scrawling swastika on an SUV in Middle Village: NYPD

The NYPD’s Hate Crimes Task Force is now looking for a suspect who allegedly drew a swastika on an SUV in Middle Village late last month.

Police from the 104th Precinct in Ridgewood reported that on the afternoon of Saturday, Mar. 30, an unidentified man approached a Honda Pilot parked in front of a home at 66-65 70th St., just north of All Saints Cemetery and drew the swastika on the rear bumper of the vehicle at around 5:45 p.m..

City employee charged in fatal collision that killed a Middle Village woman in Elmhurst last month: NYPD

A truck driver for the city’s Department of Environmental Protection was arrested and charged in a fatal collision in Elmhurst last month.

Roderick Mitchell, 38, of Valley Stream, Long Island, turned himself in at the 110th Precinct in Elmhurst, where he was charged with failure to yield and failure to exercise due care for striking 43-year-old Natalia Garcia-Valencia of Middle Village on the morning of Tuesday, Mar. 12.