Licenses for Undocumented Bring Joy, Disappointment

The response to the State Legislature’s decision to allow undocumented immigrants to receive driver’s license was instant, though mixed.

Latino activists celebrated the passage of the bill, while others immediately restated their opposition.

John Kennedy, Suffolk County comptroller and the Republican candidate for Suffolk County Executive, said, “I am disappointed that the state lawmakers in Albany voted to approve this terrible piece of legislation. Granting driver’s licenses to illegal immigrants, in my opinion, is a very bad idea. It is a slap in the face to law-abiding citizens and especially to those immigrants who went through the long and difficult process to become legal, taxpaying citizens of this great country. We should not be rewarding illegal behavior. Driving in New York State is a privilege, not a guaranteed right, and we should not be extending privileges to those who do not follow the law.”

But those who supported the bill, which would restore driving privileges that were taken away after the Sept. 11 attacks, were ecstatic, while some promised  political revenge on those Democrats who opposed the bill. That includes the six state senators from Long Island, all Democrats, who voted against the bill, citing the concerns of law enforcement about correct identification of drivers.

Pilar Moya, founder of Latinos Unidos de Long Island, said, “The Green Light Law restores access to driver’s licenses to all New York residents regardless of immigration status. It DOES NOT provide a path to citizenship; IT DOES NOT enable licensees to board plane; and It DOES NOT automatically register licensees to vote; and IT DOES NOT change an immigrant legal status.

“Undocumented immigrants on Long Island need to drive to mow your lawn; to care for your children; to care for your elderly parents; to clean your house; to harvest your fruits and vegetables in the East End and to do the jobs that many Long Islanders won’t do,” she said.

“Green Light will improve public safety by reducing the number of uninsured drivers on the road. It will require all drivers to be licensed and insured and it will bring NYS $57 million in new revenue each year,” she said.

New York is the 13th state to permit licenses for the undocumented. Those in favor of licensing say that the law will make roads safer, with drivers required to learn how to drive on New York roads and provide insurance.

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