Undocumented Immigrants Now Able To Apply For Drivers Licenses In New York—Is The Entire Country Next?

Undocumented Immigrants Now Able To Apply For Drivers Licenses In New York—Is The Entire Country Next?954
source: Flickr

On Monday of this past week, Andrew Cuomo, democrat governor for New York, signed in a law that was approved earlier by the state Senate, that is proving to be more than a little controversial.

The new law states that undocumented immigrants are now able to obtain drivers licenses. Many see this as a massive win for progressives as well as advocates for immigrant rights. Others see it as a possible beginning down a slippery slope.

The new legislation, formerly termed the "Green Light Bill," will prove to expand driver license access to what some are estimating as 265,000 undocumented New York residents. 

Those who support the bill state that it will aid in the creation of safer roads, an increase in state revenue, and help to keep families together through the prevention of traffic violations leading to deportations.

State immigration manager for an advocacy group FWD.us, Eddie A. Taveras, said: "This is life-changing, and we are proud to stand on the right side of history because every New Yorker should have the opportunity to contribute to their economies and communities without fearing they will be separated from their family because of a routine traffic stop."

The bill, which was heavily backed by both groups for immigrant rights as well as many prominent Democrats, successfully passed the state Assembly last week. However, from there the bill did face massive opposition from within the Democratic party, as it turns out.

Cuomo indicated just before he signed the bill into law, that he might actually veto the measure. He feared that the federal government might try to use the DMV information obtained for the licenses as a means to hunt down and detain undocumented immigrants. In an interview at WAMC radio on Monday, Cuomo stated: "We have to write a law that does not have unintended consequences."

Alphonso David, counsel to Governor Cuomo, stated that the bill has built-in safeguards that will aid in preventing it from being a "weapon to be used against undocumented individuals."

David went on to say that Cuomo had been a supporter of the policy of allowing undocumented immigrants drivers licenses for over a decade. He also cautioned that the key to the bill itself is not any type of political intend but the legal effect that it will have overall. 

With all that said, it is also worth noting that the law will not be allowing the creation of any type of separate database of information on those undocumented immigrants that choose to apply for a drivers license.

So, what's the verdict—you decide.

Should undocumented immigrants be able to apply for a drivers license, to begin with?