In signing a controversial law allowing illegal aliens to get a driver’s license, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo showed his willingness to sacrifice his constituents’ public safety on the altar of political expediency. On Monday, he went one step further in announcing plans to limit other states’ use of New York motor vehicle databases – a move that will put all Americans at risk.
“In a matter of fact, I’m going to go in the exact opposite direction. I want additional precautions to make sure that DMV database is not misused, because, by the way, our DMV database is shared nationwide with law enforcement agencies. When you get pulled over in Texas, they pull up your license they’re accessing the New York database,” declared Cuomo in an escalation of a feud with the federal government over his state restricting access to their DMV database.
While countless security and fraud risks have been created by the passage of the Green Light law, the greatest danger comes from a provision explicitly forbids the DMV from sharing information with “any agency that primarily enforces immigration law or to any employee or agent of such agency” without a court order or subpoena.
Cuomo has consistently defended this new practice by attacking the motives of the law’s critics, asserting that goal of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) is to use its access to “deport people” right from the database.
“The ICE chief is not interested in public safety. He does immigration work, he deports people,” Cuomo said last week in a WAMC radio interview the day after Acting ICE Director Matt Albence stood next to state and local law enforcement officials to explain the life and death implications of restricting access to vital information.
“These checks serve a critical purpose. They provide law enforcement with invaluable information about the situation they’re about to enter. To be clear, this information may be the difference between life and death,” stated Albence.
Albence highlighted one such example – the December attack on worshippers at a synagogue in Rockland County, New York. Soon after the machete-wielding assailant fled in his car, police dispatchers issued a “be on the lookout,” or BOLO, alert to law enforcement in the area, which happened to include ICE officers.
“When that stabbing occurred at that synagogue…our officers were responding, but we couldn’t run [the assailant’s vehicle]tag. We had to have one of our task force officers run the tag. You know when we got that information? An hour and a half later. What the hell good does that do to law enforcement at that point?” asked Albence.
The suspect was arrested the same day after police traced his license plate using a photo taken by a witness at the scene. Local law enforcement are now investigating him for an earlier stabbing after matching his license plates to video of his vehicle taken at the time of the Nov. 30 assault.
The ICE director also cited a case that occurred in another state. In that instance, an 18-month-old child who was being sexually abused by their father, and live-streaming the crimes over the Internet. According to Albence, authorities would not have been able to locate the father’s address and arrest him within hours of learning of the acts without information obtained from the DMV database.
ICE runs as many as 5,000 queries through New York’s DMV database every week, including many originating from out of state. If an individual with New York plates is trafficking a child through another state, the same Homeland Security Investigative unit that is charged with pursuing traffickers is left without an invaluable resource.
That is why the New York State Sheriffs’ Association, the New York State Association of Chiefs of Police and James P. Kennedy, the U.S. Attorney for the Western District of New York, have all spoken out against the state’s actions.
“I am compelled to [speak out]now because this is really putting the safety of the public and our law enforcement partners at risk,” said Kennedy in sentiments echoed in an op-ed penned by four U.S. attorneys from districts in New York.
By threatening to expand restrictions beyond New York State, Gov. Cuomo and the New York legislature, are putting every American are at greater risk.