New York granted driver’s licenses to undocumented immigrants up until the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks. Then-Governor George Pataki, in the wake of the disaster, instituted new rules that mandated that drivers have a Social Security number to request or maintain their licenses.
After years of struggling to restore the benefit to undocumented New Yorkers, the first “green light” is finally visible on a road full of stops.
This week, the Green Light NY bill that would grant driver’s licenses to undocumented residents was approved by the Assembly, but the legislation has yet to be ratified by the Senate to become law.
The fate of around 265,000 undocumented New Yorkers hangs in the balance, but that’s apparently not enough to motivate the leaders of this legislative chamber.
Although Senate Deputy Majority Leader Michael Gianaris has said he supports the bill, the Democratic-led Senate continues to refuse to bring the bill to a vote. Immigrant advocacy groups have asked Gianaris to use his power to convince the State Senate to commit to passing the Driver’s Licenses and Privacy Act.
The legislative chamber ends session in the middle of this month, and that worries immigrants who depend on a car to commute to work or school.
With or without this legislation, undocumented immigrants are driving. Why not ensure that they have licenses to boost the economy while making roads safer?
Legislators have an obligation to do what is in the best interest of public safety and ensure that all drivers have a driver’s license in the state, so that each driver is trained, certified, registered, inspected and insured.
This would mean that thousands of immigrants living in the shadows can take their children to school, go to medical appointments and drive to their jobs without fear that a routine police traffic stop can put them on the road to deportation.
It’s time for the Senate to act. Call Gianaris’ office at 718-728-0960 and tell him to get this done.
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