State Sen. John Flanagan introduced a bill Tuesday that would protect state Department of Motor Vehicle workers who won’t comply with a new law that allows undocumented immigrants to apply for driver’s licenses.
Several upstate county clerks who oversee and administer local motor vehicle offices have sued in federal court to overturn the measure. They say that they cannot approve applications without proper assurances that foreign documents used to establish identity are legitimate and that the state law conflicts with federal policy.
Flanagan’s proposal, introduced with Republicans in the state Assembly, would allow a DMV worker to hire an attorney to defend themselves if the state tries to take civil action against them. The proposal is designed to protect an employee if they take action in good faith in line with federal law.
“Democrats in Albany didn’t yield to the will of the people who overwhelmingly oppose this bad policy that puts our state Department of Motor Vehicles employees in the awful predicament of choosing between whether to abide by federal law or to issue a state license to an illegal immigrant,” the Northport Republican said.
“It should not be up to our DMV workers to ferret out potentially fraudulent foreign documents that can open up our voting system to abuse, and if they feel uncomfortable with doing so they should not fear being fired. This legislation would protect our employees who act in good faith to follow federal law instead of abetting illegal behavior.”
Steve Choi of the New York Immigration Coalition said, “This legislation isn’t worth the paper it’s printed on. But thankfully with Republicans in the minority, we all see this as nothing more than a play to grab headlines while stoking anti-immigrant fears,” he said. “It’s schemes like this that landed them in the minority and why they’re destined to stay there.”
The new law is to take effect in December.