Lo­cal reps re­act to ‘Green Light Bill’

The Saratogian (Saratoga, NY) - - FRONT PAGE - By Michael Gwiz­dala mg­wiz­[email protected]­i­tal­first­media.com

ALBANY, N.Y. >> Af­ter pass­ing through both cham­bers of the state Leg­is­la­ture, Gov. An­drew Cuomo signed the Driver’s Li­cense and Pri­vacy Act into law. The so-called “Green Light Bill,” now law, grants New York driv­ers’ li­censes to un­doc­u­mented im­mi­grants.

New York joins a dozen other states al­low­ing those en­ter­ing the coun­try il­le­gally to ob­tain a driver’s li­cense.

The is­sue has been a con­tentious one since then-Gov. Eliot Spitzer pro­posed the idea in 2007. A re­cent Siena Col­lege poll showed statewide reg­is­tered vot­ers op­posed to the leg­is­la­tion by a count of 51 per­cent to 43 per­cent.

“Gover­nor Cuomo has sup­ported this pol­icy for over a decade. The key to this bill is not the po­lit­i­cal in­tent but the le­gal ef­fect. We hope the At­tor­ney Gen­eral’s assess­ment is cor­rect for the safety of the thou­sands of un­doc­u­mented in­di­vid­u­als who are re­ly­ing on her le­gal opin­ion,” Coun­sel to the Gover­nor Alphonso David stated of the pol­icy.

The New York Im­mi­gra­tion Coali­tion also is­sued a state­ment thank­ing the gover­nor, say­ing, “restor­ing the rights of 265,000 im­mi­grants and mak­ing the roads safer is a vic­tory for all New York­ers.”

Af­ter the bill passed through the Senate late Mon­day night, Sen. Neil Bres­lin, D-Beth­le­hem, echoed those sen­ti­ments in sup­port of the passage of the bill.

“The Green Light bill will sup­port mil­lions of dol­lars in eco­nomic ac­tiv­ity and give New York­ers the abil­ity to shop at and sup­port lo­cal busi­nesses and em­ploy­ers. In ad­di­tion, this law is estimated to pro­vide $83.9 mil­lion in gov­ern­ment rev­enues over the first three years and $6.4 mil­lion in re­cur­ring rev­enue there­after, and it also in­creases road safety,” Bres­lin said.

Yet, not ev­ery­one is pleased with the law, which goes into ef­fect in De­cem­ber. Those op­posed cite a po­ten­tial for fraud and a par­ti­san ploy for more votes.

“I voted no on this measure be­cause their Green Light Bill gives a green light to fraud, dan­ger and illegal im­mi­grants vot­ing – a priv­i­lege re­served for Amer­i­can cit­i­zens – re­sult­ing in our Em­pire State becoming the ‘Sanc­tu­ary State.’ One of the ma­jor is­sues with the measure is that of iden­tity,” said Sen. Daphne Jor­dan, R-Half­moon, in a state­ment. “Th­ese IDs, once pro­vided in the form of driver’s li­censes, will be used by in­di­vid­u­als whose true iden­tity is un­known, for vot­ing, free col­lege and so many other ben­e­fits paid for by hard-work­ing, law-abid­ing tax­pay­ers.

“This bill does noth­ing to in­cen­tivize in­di­vid­u­als who are here il­le­gally in vi­o­la­tion of fed­eral law to fol­low the law and go through the proper process so they can be­come cit­i­zens of the great­est na­tion in the world. Sadly, [Mon­day] was just the lat­est ex­am­ple of how the Senate Demo­cratic Ma­jor­ity con­tin­ues to ad­vance their ex­treme, rad­i­cal agenda and dis­re­gard the will of the peo­ple and the rule of law.”

Echo­ing those sen­ti­ments was Jor­dan’s col­league in the Senate, Sen. Jim Tedisco, R-Glenville.

“Giv­ing driver’s li­censes to those here il­le­gally sends the wrong mes­sage to hon­est, law-abid­ing cit­i­zens and those who are try­ing to do the right thing and have been in line for quite some time to be­come Amer­i­can cit­i­zens. If there is one set of hoops cit­i­zens have to jump through to earn their priv­i­leges but no stan­dards for those here il­le­gally, what’s the point of ci­ti­zen­ship when you can just sneak into the front of the line and take ad­van­tage of our sys­tem? Make no mis­take, if we con­tinue on this dan­ger­ous path, we will be­come the United States of Non-Cit­i­zens,” Tedisco stated.

“It was a bad idea when for­mer Gover­nor Eliot Spitzer wanted to do it and it’s a bad idea now!” added Tedisco, who helped de­feat the plan as an As­sem­bly­man and out­spo­ken critic in 2007.

Also voic­ing their con­cerns and op­po­si­tion in the Cap­i­tal Re­gion was Saratoga County Clerk Craig Hayner and Rens­se­laer County Clerk Frank Merola.

“Democrats in the New York State Leg­is­la­ture and Gover­nor Cuomo dis­re­garded pub­lic safety, pub­lic opin­ion, and case law when they passed the Driver’s Li­cense Ac­cess and Pri­vacy Act. As I’ve stated be­fore, this law cre­ates loop­holes for fraud and sets a double stan­dard for peo­ple ap­ply­ing for a Stan­dard li­cense. Fur­ther­more, county DMV clerks are not pro­fes­sion­ally trained in de­tect­ing fraud­u­lent for­eign doc­u­ments. I only hope the state DMV will rise as the voice of rea­son and ad­dress th­ese abysmal fail­ings when they write the reg­u­la­tions for this mis­guided law,” Hayner said.

“It’s like déjà vu for me,” added Merola. “In 2007 it was the same thing and then here we are in 2019 and it went a lot fur­ther this time. It’s amaz­ing, es­pe­cially in a time when we’re hav­ing peo­ple that are here legally jump through hoops for ei­ther a REAL ID or an en­hanced li­cense and that we’re go­ing to willy nilly give it to some­one that’s not here legally it makes no sense at all.”

“We’re back in the same spot. I said in 2007 I wasn’t go­ing to be pro­cess­ing them in my of­fice and I’m go­ing to stick to my word, I’m not go­ing to do them there. I took an oath for the Con­sti­tu­tion, and I’ll stand by the Con­sti­tu­tion, you’re not sup­posed to aid or abet any­one who comes in here il­le­gally, so I’m go­ing to stand by that. I think fed­eral law trumps state law. We have 52 county clerks who do DMV work, so I’m hop­ing the ma­jor­ity of county clerks are go­ing to stick to­gether and not process any­body who’s here il­le­gally,” Merola added oh how he plans to han­dle the IDs.

Merola went on to say that he be­lieves there was a lot of “mis­in­for­ma­tion” dur­ing the pro­ceed­ings hear­ings.

“I watched the pro­ceed­ings hear­ings and there was so much mis­in­for­ma­tion, it was un­be­liev­able. They talk about ‘not for fed­eral pur­poses’ up in the right­hand cor­ner of the driver’s li­cense, if you de­cide not to get a REAL ID or an en­hanced driver’s li­cense, your li­cense will also say ‘not for fed­eral pur­poses,’ so they left that part out. Any­body with a pass­port doesn’t have to get a REAL ID or an en­hanced li­cense, the li­cense that they get will say ‘not for fed­eral pur­poses’ but they left that part out, they’re mak­ing it sound like that’s go­ing to dis­tin­guish be­tween peo­ple who are here legally and peo­ple who are not,” Merola noted of the lack of dis­crep­ancy be­tween the IDs.

“I’m not anti-im­mi­grant, my wife’s a nat­u­ral­ized cit­i­zen, she’s from Greece, came over the right way. I also have a son who’s in law en­force­ment and I think of that all the time, I’ve never heard any­body from law en­force­ment that thinks this is a good idea, you pull some­body over at two in the morn­ing you walk up to a car, I’d like for that per­son to be able to tell if that per­son is here legally or not,” Merola added.


Saratoga County Clerk Craig Hayner speaks at a news con­fer­ence ear­lier this year op­pos­ing li­censes for un­doc­u­mented im­mi­grants.


Se­na­tor Jim Tedisco


Rens­se­laer County Clerk Frank Merola


State Sen. Daphne Jor­dan


State Sen. Neil Bres­lin

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