NY Law Giving Driver’s Licenses to Illegal Aliens Faces New Challenges



No sooner had New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed into law legislation giving illegal immigrants access to state driver’s licenses, Monroe County Executive Cheryl Dinolfo announced her intent to sue the state over the new law.

“Let me be clear: Because this policy puts state law at odds with federal law, endangers public safety and rewards those who have not followed the law in the first place, I will not allow driver’s licenses to be issued to illegal immigrants without a fight,” said Dinolfo in a June 19 statement.

Dinolfo was also a vocal opponent to then-Gov. Eliot Spitzer’s 2007 push to give illegal aliens licenses and even sued Spitzer before he dropped the issue. The Republican county executive must first get the Monroe County Legislature to pass a bill permitting her to file a lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the law.

“There certainly is a discrepancy between state and federal law on immigration, and certainly unequal protection under the law for those who are here with without legal status and who have entered the country illegally, and those who are with full status as full American citizens,” she told a local ABC News affiliate.

The passage of the Driver’s License Access and Privacy Act also elicited a defiant reaction from several Empire State county clerks who said they’d refuse to distribute the licenses.

Hours after the bill became law, Erie County Clerk Michael Kearns sent a letter to the county’s attorney, Michael Siragusa, seeking representation in case he is sued for refusing to hand out licenses, according to the Buffalo News.

“I anticipate being sued in either event,” Kearns wrote, adding that he also would file a declaratory action “challenging the law as applied to the Erie County Clerk.”

After Cuomo signed the bill on Monday, the New York Post reported that clerks in Erie, Rensselaer, Niagara and Allegany counties said they would refuse to issue the licenses.

The law takes effect in December, despite lingering concerns about opening the door to voter fraud given a driver’s license is all that is needed to register to vote in New York State.

Even supporters recognized the potential for abuse by illegal aliens.

“Theoretically, they could have the ability to vote,” acknowledged the bill’s Democratic sponsor, state Rep. Luis Sepúlveda on Monday before the final vote.

While immigrant rights activists were able to convince enough legislators to support it, public opposition remained steady in the final months of the debate.

A June Siena College poll found a majority (53 to 41 percent) of New Yorkers opposed giving illegal aliens drivers’ licenses, which was just one point lower than an April survey.  

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo also has some concerns but typically not those shared by voters.

In a June 17 letter to state Solicitor General Barbara Underwood, Cuomo’s counsel, David Alphonso, requested a legal opinion on whether the bill “will have the effect of inadvertently providing federal officials with access to State data relating to the same set of undocumented individuals.”

He added in a statement that he worried that federal officials “seeking to use their information for deportation.”

Cuomo is fretting the new law could lead to enforcement of immigration law, but has no qualms about it leading to violations of federal law. Typical.

About Author

avatar

Jennifer joined FAIR as Web Content Writer in 2017 and brings to the role extensive communications and media background. She began her career as a policy research analyst on multiple national and state political campaigns before entering journalism. In addition to spending over a decade writing for several broadcast and print news outlets, Jennifer directed communications strategy for a member of Congress and a military nonprofit.

7 Comments

  1. Pingback: NY Law Giving Driver’s Licenses to Illegal Aliens Faces New Challenges – ukraineng

  2. avatar

    Do States Share Their Drivers License Computer Information?

    If NY shares it, then ICE could possibly use it for apprehension and deportation names and addresses, assuming the identification information helps the ICE Police do their work.

  3. avatar

    “Theoretically, they could have the ability to vote.” Translation, they will vote and that’s what we want. And then when anyone says we need secure ID to vote, then we will act indignant and say they are trying to “suppress the vote”. No surprise, they don’t care as long as they “win”. No laws of any kind should apply to them or their supporters, illegal or not.

    There is a movement in Los Angeles to recall Mayor Eric Garcetti because of the enormity of the homeless problem. Typical. Of course it has nothing to do with the many billions that the city and state have put out because of the illegal aliens they all have encouraged to come. Money that could have gone to take care of American citizens and veterans. These people are just stuck on stupid. It’s like some cult. Brain dead. They add two and two and get eight.

    Republicans are hypocrites on budget deficits, but the Democrats are a special kind of out there. Look at all the proposals, free college, Medicare for all, apparently it will all be paid with Monopoly money. And then there is the tens of trillions for the Green New Deal. But the fact is that the global warming the media insists on may not even happen. Glacier National Park has quietly removed signs that claimed park glaciers would be gone by 2020. The reality is that the last several winters there have seen heavy snowfall and the temperature in Montana for the month of February was twenty seven degrees below average.

  4. avatar

    Hit the nail right on the head. They were basically rewarding lawbreakers who ignored the sovereignty of our nation and as punishment they get driver’s licenses? My question was what about insurance? Was the state of New York going to throw in free insurance to protect the public?

    Make no mistake this was all about giving them driver’s licenses and then letting them vote. All about power and the crooked Democratic machine.

    • avatar

      Does anyone know what ILLEGAL means. It means .. you are breaking the law. As in ILLEGAL IMMIGRANTS. Why would anyone want to reward a CRIMINAL with a driver’s licenses. When American CITIZENS are getting their licenses suspended or revoked for breaking the law. Yet you would o.k a NON CITIZEN, A LAWBREAKER THE RIGHT AND REWARD OF A DRIVER’S LICENSES. WHERE IS THE LOGIC?