ALBANY – The State Assembly plans to vote this week on legislation authorizing driver’s licenses for immigrants who entered the U.S. illegally.
The so-called “green light” legislation is expected to pass the Assembly but continues to face challenges in the Senate, where Democrats hold a smaller majority.
Last month WRFA talked with Republican Assemblyman Andy Goodell about the legislation, who said he is opposed to the bill because it could create several problems – including challenges for DMV officials trying to rely on and authentic birth certificates and other documents from dozens other countries. In addition, he said there is the concern about motor-voter registration – with federal law allowing anyone who applies for a drivers license to also have the ability to register to vote.
For Goodell, the issue is nothing more than a political effort by downstate lawmakers in New York City.
“The vast majority of the people who live and work in New York City use public transportation – subways and buses. So why the push for drivers licenses? The answer is the illegal immigrants have legal relatives. The number of legal immigrants in New York City is much, much higher than it is in Upstate. So the political reason they’re pushing for drivers licenses for illegal immigrants is to curry votes from they’re legal relatives in New York City who want to see more opportunities for their illegal relatives,” Goodell said.
Lawmakers are also expected to consider bills that would renew and possibly strengthen tenant protections in the New York City area. The law governing rent control and rent stabilization expires June 15, and many Democrats say they want to not only extend the law but also add new protections for renters, possibly statewide.
Both issues are among the more contentious items on the agenda ahead of the Legislature’s June 19 adjournment.
It’s unlikely either the Assembly or the Senate will be able to enact another high-priority measure – the legalization of cannabis – prior to the end of the session.