Undocumented immigrants in New York will have access to driver’s licenses under a law green-lit by the Legislature and signed by Governor Cuomo on Monday. This ‘Green Light’ bill will make more than 265,000 people eligible for licenses and improve road safety by making non-citizens who drive take road tests, get insurance, and schedule annual vehicle inspections. Although this is a large stepping stone for New York immigrants, many still have uncertainties about this new bill. Cuomo has supported this policy for over a decade, but he did raise last-minute concerns Monday regarding the security of undocumented immigrant’s information gathered by the DMV.
“You create a driver’s license for undocumented people; you just have to make sure you do it in a way that the feds don’t come in the next day and access that database with the exact opposite intention.” “Why give Trump a list of undocumented immigrants?” Cuomo said at an unrelated press conference.
The Challenges of the ‘Green Light’ New York Bill
Advocates believe that the governor’s sudden concern about data was misplaced because the bill was crafted with this issue in mind. Murad Awawadeh, vice president of advocacy with the New York Immigration Coalition stated that the ‘Green Light’ New York bill has some of the strongest data protections in the nation and there shouldn’t be anything to fear. According to Awawadeh, they saw that other states have been affected during in similar situations, and they wanted to be prepared with this bill to safeguard the data of undocumented immigrants in New York.
Under the bill, a license holder must be notified within three days if any request is made to access their personal file and court order would have to be secured before the state can release a driver’s information to the federal government. The license would also have a stamp that prevents immigrants from using it as federal identification purposes or for voting.
Despite the efforts of many people, the measures remain deeply divisive across New York because proponents couldn’t convince any of the six Democrats representing Long Island districts to vote for it.
The lawmakers said in a statement that, “following countless meetings with stakeholders, residents, and advocates on the implications of this bill, our vote is based on the continued existence of serious concerns raised by stakeholders and law enforcement.”
A poll last week conducted by Siena found that 53% of New Yorkers oppose the bill and about 41% support it.
The Benefits for Thousands of Immigrants & Citizens of New York
The legislation contains abundant protections for those who apply for driver’s licenses. By passing this bill, New York will grow its economy while making their roads safer. Now that Gov. Cuomo sighed the Green Light NY bill into law, the state will restore driver’s licenses to 250,000 undocumented immigrants. If the federal government decides to go after the data collected by the state DMV, the Empire State is ready to protect the information and challenge them in court.
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