ALBANY – Legislation that will enable undocumented immigrants to obtain driver’s licenses was signed into law by Gov. Andrew Cuomo late Monday after the State Senate narrowly approved the measure.
The controversial issue, which passed the 62-member Senate by a vote of 33 — 29, could create reelection problems for Democrats who supported the legislation, known as the Green Light bill.
The bill enables undocumented immigrants to obtain a “standard license” only, addressing national security concerns that arose following 9/11 terror attacks. Twelve states have similar laws. It was approved by the State Assembly earlier in June.
Senate Republicans, who have historically opposed granting benefits to undocumented immigrants, raised familiar concerns about the bill on the Senate floor, arguing it incentivizes breaking the law and may eventually enable non-citizens to vote. Supporters say it will result in safer roads, create revenue for the state and prevent the detention or deportation of undocumented immigrants who are caught on the road without a license.
Another polarizing issue in marginal Democratic districts has been marijuana legalization. It has stalled in part due to opposition in suburban areas where some local leaders have indicated they would opt out of the plan to decriminalize and commercialize the drug. It’s not known if the legislature will be able to come to an agreement on a legalization bill prior to the end of the session on Wednesday.
In polls, marijuana appears to have much broader public support than the Green Light bill.