State moves to allow licenses for immigrants

Focus Is On Reducing Illegal Driving




Zach Cohen will host a series of local forums to discuss potential changes in Department of Motor Vehicles license laws beginning with the first one on Tuesday, March 26, at 6 PM, at East Hampton
Library. The discussions are sponsored by East End For Opportunity.

“Driving In East Hampton — What You Should Know” will discuss a complex and controversial issue from a variety of viewpoints. Guest speakers include attorney Carl Irace, East Hampton Village Police Chief Mike Tracey, and Mark Butler, the president of EEFO.

Among the topics expected to be discussed are how to drive safely and legally, police and court procedures, future laws and opportunities, and alternatives for people without a driver’s license.

Questions from the audience will follow the presentation.

“Unlicensed operation brings stress for everyone,” Tracey said in an interview.

Some critics mistakenly believe allowing immigrants to get driver’s licenses will provide a path to citizenship, but the two are completely unrelated. “It already exists in 12 states, including two neighboring states,” Tracey said of the practice of granting licenses to non-citizens.

“There are benefits to everyone: costs go down, insurance goes down,” he added.

Easing licensing restrictions would largely affect Latinos, some of whom are opposed to the idea. “Their biggest worry is that by giving up their name and address it will be shown to the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency,” he said. But the chief added that driving without a license is, in fact, more perilous to those looking to avoid contact with immigration agents. “We are going to fingerprint everyone that comes in here, and if it’s a crime, they will be put in the system,” Tracey said.

“We’re starting to make progress,” Cohen said. “People are understanding and looking.”

rmurphy@indyeastend.com