ALBANY, NY — The New York State Senate passed the Green Light Bill on June 17, Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed it and the assembly had passed it a week earlier. The legislation will allow the …
ALBANY, NY — The New York State Senate passed the Green Light Bill on June 17, Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed it and the assembly had passed it a week earlier. The legislation will allow the state to issue driver’s licenses to undocumented immigrants, including to seasonal farm workers.
“As chair of the senate agriculture committee, I have heard from agricultural organizations and individual farmers from across the state about the importance of this bill for providing farm workers in New York the opportunity to drive themselves to work, to the store, to the doctor, or simply take their kids to school,” said Sen. Jen Metzger. “It is also common sense that proper licensing, testing and insurance for all drivers in our state will make our roads safer and bring down insurance costs for everyone, while generating revenue for counties through application fees.”
The legislation applies only to non-commercial licenses and learning permits, according to a press release from Metzger’s office. Along with agricultural organizations, her office said the legislation “is also supported by the Business Council of New York State, New York’s largest business association, which argues that the legislation will support local businesses and billions of dollars in economic activity.”
Gov. Andrew Cuomo had expressed concerns that the legislation would put undocumented immigrants in jeopardy, because the federal government could obtain the information given to the state by immigrants and used in deportation proceedings. Before signing the legislation, Cuomo sought assurances from attorney general Letitia James that undocumented immigrants would be protected.
“The legislation is well crafted and contains ample protections for those who apply for drivers’ licenses,” James said. “If this bill is enacted and challenged in court, we will vigorously defend it.”
The bill has generated strong opposition from residents and elected officials, with more than 50% of New Yorkers saying they are against it, according to a recent poll by Sienna College.
The incoming chairman of the New York State Republican Party Nick Langworthy said in a statement, “Andrew Cuomo’s Democrat Party always puts the rights of law breakers ahead of taxpayers. Whether it’s paroling cop-killers, legalizing infanticide, or giving free college and drivers’ licenses to illegal immigrants, Albany Democrats have proven they are in lockstep with leftist radicals and could care less about the priorities of taxpaying New Yorkers.”
Metzger pointed out that members of the state’s agricultural community, which includes many immigrants, support the measure. “We recognize the overall benefits that Green Light provides to farm workers in improving their quality of life while working in New York State,” said Rick Zimmerman of the New York State Vegetable Growers Association.
The Green Light Bill requires that undocumented immigrants will have to follow the same requirements as all drivers in the state, including having auto insurance. Eleven other states and Washington D.C. already allow undocumented immigrants to obtain drivers’ licenses.