Full Stop at New York’s Obstructionist ‘Green Light’ Law



New York’s “Green Light” law is flashing a brazen red light at federal immigration enforcement. Authorizing driver’s licenses for illegal aliens, the Empire State joins 14 other states in undermining public safety and national security.

As FAIR noted this week, it “gives license to the normalization of illegal aliens.”

Right out of the gate, county clerks were overwhelmed, with some reticent about issuing licenses based on a wide array of foreign documents they weren’t familiar with and could not interpret.

Here’s the Department of Homeland Security’s interpretation: “Besides giving drivers licenses to hundreds of thousands of people who broke our laws and have come to our country illegally, the New York law also blocks DHS law enforcement officers who investigate crimes like child exploitation, human trafficking, terrorism, the targeting of gang members, sex offenders, and drug smuggling, from accessing important public records.”

So, what is to be done? In addition to suing New York, and perhaps other states over their slightly less obstructionist laws, some have suggested that Washington could counter on several fronts. Among them, withholding federal highway funds as the federal government has done in the past to “persuade” states to adopt speed limits or raising the drinking age.

Whether it is withholding targeted federal dollars, or some other course of legal action, the federal government should not just idly stand by.

New York’s Green Light law creates a massive legal logjam by requiring federal courts to rule on every request for information to the state’s Department of Motor Vehicles. U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) must continue serving administrative subpoenas and grand jury subpoenas, forcing the state to expend resources to justify and defend its dubious mandate.

Meantime, why not do the obvious? Deploy ICE agents at New York’s DMV offices, now crowded with illegal aliens lining up for licenses. That would be the most proactive strategy of all.

As the Center for Immigration Studies put it, “Law-abiding U.S. citizens and aliens legally present in the United States get no benefit from New York’s Green Light law, only problems created as a result of destroying the integrity of N.Y. driver’s licenses. The catastrophe of 9/11 was enabled by the lack of security vigilance in our immigration system. Will the next terrorist catastrophe be enabled by the deliberate weakening of vigilance at New York’s Department of Motor Vehicles?”

Washington has a constitutional duty to resist this dangerous and wholly unnecessary aggrandizement of state power.

About Author

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Bob Dane, the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR)'s Executive Director, has been with FAIR since 2006. His deep belief is that immigration is the most transformational determinant of where we are heading as a nation and that our policies must be reformed in the public interest. Over many years on thousands of radio, TV and print interviews, Bob has made the case that unless immigration is regulated and sensibly reduced, it will be difficult for America to reduce unemployment, increase wages, improve health care and education and heighten national security. Prior to joining FAIR, Bob spent twenty years in network radio, marketing and communications after an earlier career in policy and budgeting within the Reagan Administration. Bob has a degree from George Mason University in Public Administration and Management.

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