BUFFALO, N.Y. — There are questions whether the New York State Senate has the votes to pass the bill which would allow undocumented immigrants in New York State to get driver licenses.
But if the bill were to become law, aside from the granting of licenses to people who may be here illegally, what actually changes?
For starters, the license applicants would not have to prove they are in the U.S. legally and cannot be asked about it.
Proof of age and identity is still needed to obtain a license, but the list of acceptable documents has been expanded to include foreign passports (previous foreign passports were only acceptable with a valid visa) and foreign driver license. Even expire foreign licenses could be used so long as they are not more than two years out of date.
And law enforcement agencies would still be able to get information from the state Department of Motor Vehicles, with the exception of ICE, INS, and any other immigration enforcement agency.
The licenses issued to undocumented immigrants would not be the so-called "federal licenses". Those are licenses which conform to the federal REAL ID act to regulate identification standards.
Undocumenteds would get what is called a standard license with the words "Not for Federal Purposed" stamped on the face. But the legislation requires the phrase appear in the smallest font used on the license which may make it exceptionally difficult to read.
The proposal is controversial. There has been pushback by the State Association of County Clerks. Individually they run the auto bureaus in their counties which issue collectively most of the state's driver licenses.
Erie County Comptroller Stefan Mychajliw released a study critical of multiple facets of the Green Light NY bill. He believes it is unfair to offer privileges like licenses to people in the U.S. illegally.