New York Approves Driver’s Licenses for Undocumented Immigrants

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) signed a law on Monday that allows undocumented immigrants to get driver’s licenses, a major win for progressives and immigrant right advocates.

The state Senate approved the bill earlier in the day, 33-29.

The legislation, known as the Green Light Bill, expands access to driver’s licenses to an estimated 265,000 undocumented New Yorkers. Supporters say it will create safer roads, increase state revenue and keep families together by preventing traffic violations from turning into deportations.

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 that they will be separated from their family because of a routine traffic stop,” Eddie A. Taveras, state immigration manager for the advocacy group FWD.us, said in a statement.

The bill, backed by immigrant rights groups and some prominent Democrats, passed the state Assembly last week.

But it faced opposition from within the party as well. The chairman of the New York State Democratic Party, Jay Jacobs, said he warned Long Island’s Democratic senators earlier this month against supporting the Green Light Bill because of potential political consequences, Gothamist reported.

Cuomo hinted as recently as Monday that he might veto the measure, after raising last minute concerns about the possibility of federal government using DMV information to track down undocumented immigrants.

“We have to write a law that does not have an unintended consequences,” Cuomo said in an interview with WAMC radio on Monday.

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