Brooklyn Borough President, Eric L. Adams and members of the Green Light NY coalition, a network of more than 200 organizations statewide including Make the Road New York and the New York Immigration Coalition (NYIC), rallied local support last week behind the Driver’s License Access and Privacy Act.
The bill would expand access to drivers’ licenses for all state residents, regardless of their immigration status.
As a proud proponent of this legislation, Adams hosted the rally as part his office’s own special observance of an Immigrant Day of Friendship on the plaza outside Brooklyn Borough Hall.
Against a backdrop of flags from around the world, as part of Brooklyn’s special observance of Immigrant Day of Friendship and in honor of the City’s celebration of Immigrant Heritage Week, Adams joined immigrant New Yorkers in highlighting the importance of the Driver’s License Access and Privacy Act, “as a matter of immigrant rights.”
“Today, across New York, there are so many fronts on which we are standing tall in support of our immigrant community and its rights, including the push to expand access to driver’s licenses,” Adams said.
“As a matter of public safety, as well as social justice and economic benefit, the time is now to pass this legislation in Albany,” he added. “I thank the sponsors of the Driver’s License Access and Privacy Act, and I pledge my full support in any way I can be helpful to green light the righteous campaign of Green Light NY.”
Yaritza Mendez, lead organizer at Make the Road New York, said: “We applaud Borough President Adams in taking a stand to support driver’s licenses for all, regardless of immigration status.
“Restoring access to driver’s licenses is critical to help protect our communities,” she said. “New Yorkers should be able to take their children to school and drive to work without fear of being detained and separated from their loved ones.
“We look forward to working with Borough President ,Adams to make sure all qualified drivers are able to follow the process of applying for a license, taking a road test, and ultimately obtaining a driver’s license,” Mendez continued.
“The time has come for our elected officials to pass this vital legislation without delay,” said Murad Awawdeh, vice president of advocacy for NYIC. “Our neighbors in Utah, Wisconsin, District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and 11 other states have already passed similar measures that put public safety first.
“When our legislators take up and pass the drivers licenses bill into law, it will result in an estimated 57 million dollars in revenue to NY state and could help to lower insurance premiums for all drivers,” he added. We thank Brooklyn Borough President Adams and Assembly Member Simon for their support of #GreenLightNY and call on our state legislature and Governor Cuomo to get the job done for the benefit of all New Yorkers.”
Adams noted that, currently, 752,000 undocumented immigrant New Yorkers over the age of 16 are barred from obtaining driver’s licenses due to their immigration status, and more than 70,000 additional residents who currently have Temporary Protected Status (TPS) or Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals are at risk of losing access to their driver’s licenses.
The borough president said 13 states, as well as the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico, currently provide driver’s licenses to their residents regardless of immigration status.
Adams and the Green Light NY coalition highlighted how A.03675/S.01747, sponsored by State Senator Luis Sepúlveda and Assembly Member Marcos Crespo, would improve public safety by promoting greater trust with local authorities and awareness of traffic laws, as well as benefit the economy through an estimated $57 million in combined annual revenue plus lower insurance premiums for all drivers.
“It is disheartening that there are parents who cannot drive their children to school or safely get to work simply because their immigration status prevents them from having a driver’s license,” said State Sen. Luis Sepúlveda. “The ‘Green Light Bill’ will not only provide undocumented immigrants with a legal solution to obtain a driver’s license but it will also have significant positive impacts on road safety and economic growth in New York State.
“Millions of dollars will be raised in revenue, auto insurance premiums will decrease, and local economies will see a boom as earnings and spending increase,” he added. “Other states with this policy are already reaping the benefits of road safety and job growth. For economic, safety, and moral reasons, our communities deserve the ‘Green Light Bill,’ and now is the time to pass it.”
Crespo also commended Adams for his “unequivocal support of our Green Light NY legislation and our thriving immigrant communities.
“This bill has strong economic and social benefits for all New Yorkers and communities across our state,” he added. “Brooklyn’s support sends a loud message that our campaign keeps growing and that New Yorkers realize they all stand to live better lives because of its passage.”
Sen. Zellnor Myrie, a co-sponsor of S.01747 and representative for the 20th Senatorial District in Brooklyn, said: “Immigrants are major contributors to New York’s robust economy and celebrated culture, yet they face disproportionate levels of discrimination and danger.
“No one should have to overcome fear just to get to work, pick up their kids from school, or otherwise take care of their families,” he said. “With this bill, we stand for our immigrants, their dignity, and their wellbeing.”
“I am proud to be co-sponsoring this legislation that will allow our fellow New Yorkers to have access to a valid form of identification,” said Assembly Member Mathylde Frontus, the Haitian-American co-sponsor of A.03675.
“Most adults are in need of this type of validation to attain jobs and live fully functional lives,” she added. “I commend Borough President Adams for being such a strong proponent of this legislation that aims to both serve and protect the residents of New York.”