The New York State Assembly last week passed the Driver’s License Access and Privacy Act, which would allow undocumented residents of New York to apply for a standard state driver’s license.
Known as the “Green Light Bill,” the legislation aims to improve road safety, raise revenue, and boost the economy, its supporters say.
The legislation would require that undocumented license applicants pass a driving test, be informed of traffic laws, and be properly licensed. The driver’s license would continue to have “not for federal purposes” stated on it, and would only be used for the operation of a motor vehicle.
The legislation also aims to help police do their jobs by enabling them to verify a motorist’s identity, review their traffic records if necessary, and better use resources that would otherwise be used to pursue those driving without a license.
Supporters say increased fees would provide needed revenue for the state, and argue it would not result in voting fraud or changes in an immigrant’s status. Undocumented residents would not be allowed to apply an Enhanced or Real-ID license, which will soon be needed to board a plane.
Opponents say the measure would create security risks and possibly leave to an increase in fraudulent identification papers.
If adopted into law, New York would join Utah and 11 other states, as well as Puerto Rico and the District of Columbia, in allowing undocumented immigrants to apply for licenses.
“Keeping New Yorkers safe always comes first,” Assemblyman Fred W. Thiele Jr. said in a press release. “We can’t get sidetracked by fear, rumors or bigotry — we need to focus on the facts, and the facts tell us loud and clear that making sure everyone on the road has a driver’s license makes us all safer.”
The measure is supported by Governor Andrew Cuomo, but still must be passed by the state Senate, which is narrowly controlled by the Democrats.