The New York State Assembly on Wednesday passed legislation granting illegal immigrants the right to obtain a driver’s license by presenting foreign documentation.
The “Green Light” bill, which passed 86–50 along party lines, must now pass the state senate before moving to the desk of Democratic governor Andrew Cuomo, who has said he would sign it.
“This legislation is in the best interest of the entire state of New York,” said one of the bill’s sponsors, Assemblyman Marcos Crespo (D., Bronx), according to the New York Post. “It is more beneficial to communities outside the City of New York — where transportation is fully accessible in our neighborhoods — as opposed to communities on Long Island and in upstate. There are clear economic gains for the state of New York, there are great revenues coming to our rural communities.”
The bill is reflective of the Democratic party’s broader push to extend to illegal immigrants benefits and privileges typically reserved for citizens. But Democrats representing rural and suburban districts in the state senate have proven hesitant to embrace the legislation out of concern that it might harm law-enforcement efforts in their districts.
“There are certain safety concerns that have been raised by law-enforcement agencies about how an ID can be used,” Senator Todd Kaminsky (D., Nassau) said last week.
Republican critics, meanwhile, have expressed similar concerns, questioning whether the move would threaten the DMV’s ability to track who is on the road.
“I’m worried about DMV being able to comply with law enforcement and ensuring the data systems that they use will have accurate information,” said Assemblyman Mike Reilly (R., Staten Island), a former police officer.
The provision of driver’s licenses to illegal immigrants remains unpopular among New York voters, only 41 percent of whom support the bill, according to a Siena College poll released last week.