New York State Assembly passes bill allowing illegal immigrants to obtain driver's licenses

by Jon Brown
| June 12, 2019 09:06 PM

The New York State Assembly passed a bill Wednesday that would allow illegal immigrants to obtain driver's licenses.

Passing the lower chamber of the New York State Legislature with a vote of 86-47, the bill needs only to pass the New York State Senate before heading to the desk of Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who has expressed his readiness to sign it.

The law would allow residents to use passports from other countries and other foreign-issued documents to prove their identities at the Department of Motor Vehicles.

The state's Association of County Clerks is opposed to the law, arguing that its members will not always be able to identify whether foreign documents are genuine.

"County level DMVs have not been required to verify foreign documents in the past as this is currently a federal function, most commonly done during the working visa process," the president of the bipartisan association said in a public statement, according to the Press-Republican.

Republican New York state Sen. Thomas F. O'Mara accused Gov. Cuomo and the Democratic leaders of the Legislature of "making New York State a haven for lawbreakers," and warns that the bill puts "overall public safety and security at risk, imposes another unfunded [mandate] on counties, and asks local, law-abiding public servants to break the law.”

Supporters of the law claim that it will lower insurance costs, discourage hit-and-runs, and facilitate transportation of undocumented workers to and from their place of employment.

The law is not well-supported outside of the New York metropolitan area, with 61% of New York voters opposed to it, according to a March Siena poll.

Some clerks have reportedly expressed their intention to disobey the law if it's passed, the upstate Press-Republican reported.

Twelve states, as well as the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico, allow immigrants who entered the U.S. illegally to obtain driver's licenses.