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NY Assembly To Pass Bill Giving Undocumented Immigrants Drivers Licenses

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Democrats in the New York State Assembly passed a bill on Wednesday that would allow undocumented immigrants to apply for a drivers license. 

The controversial Driver's License Access and Privacy Act, also known as the Green Light Bill, passed the Assembly with 86 votes after several hours of debate, needing 76 votes to pass. 

Supporters of the Green Light Bill say this bill would create safer roads and boost the state's economy.

"While opponents continue to spread misinformation and stoke fears about the bill's intent and consequences, the Assembly Majority will continue to put the needs of New Yorkers first," said Speaker Carl Heastie.

"The legislation we pass today will promote public safety, protect our state's economy and ensure every New Yorker can integrate into their community and care for their family. Making sure that every driver is trained, tested and insured will make New York's roads safer for everyone and ensure that our industries have the labor they need to keep our economy moving," Heastie adds.

Those against the bill, including Assemblyman Cliff Crouch (R-Bainbridge), disagree. 

“I have said this before and I will say it again, we should not be issuing driver’s licenses to people who are here illegally,” said Crouch. “It legitimizes illegal immigration and encourages it to continue."

Broome County Clerk Joe Mihalko also opposes the bill describing it as "nothing more than an unfunded mandate on local governments."

“In Broome County alone, it’s estimated that 500 undocumented immigrants will be eligible for immediate licensure, yet the State’s not giving us a dime to hire additional staff to handle the influx, verify the authenticity of foreign identification or assist with language translation needs. As written, it’ll be a logistical nightmare for County-operated DMVs," added Mihalko. 

A recent Siena College Research Institute poll shows voters in New York State oppose the measure 53 percent to 41 percent, and 62 to 35 in upstate New York.

The bill would expand the types of proof of identity that could be submitted with an application for a non-commercial driver's license that does not meet federal standards for identification.

An applicant without a social security number could instead submit a signed affidavit that they have not been issued a social security number.

Undocumented immigrants in New York previously had this privilege until 2001. 

The bill is expected to go to the Senate later this week. 

Governor Cuomo says he supports the bill and will sign off on it if passed.