RENSSELAER COUNTY, N.Y. (NEWS10) — New York State’s controversial Green Light Law went into effect on Saturday, giving undocumented immigrants the ability to obtain driver’s licenses.
Governor Cuomo signed the bill in June that divided lawmakers and sparked lawsuits from county clerks. Those suits have been dismissed, and DMVs theoretically will start adjusting their operations to reflect the new law come Monday.
Rensselaer County Clerk Frank Merola’s lawsuit against the State regarding the Green Light Law was dismissed yesterday. He claims the law is unconstitutional because it prohibits his office and the DMV from sharing private information with the federal government.
“We’re totally disappointed on the judge’s ruling.,” Merola told News10, “especially with the fact that the Department of Justice joined in on our lawsuit.”
The judge ruled that Merola didn’t have the right to sue the State, but did not make a decision on whether or not that law is legal.
Merola also argues the Green Light Law opens doors to voter fraud, by way of the I.D. number that comes with a driver’s license.
“Anybody can register to vote with that nine digit number,” Merola told News10.
Assemblywoman Patricia Fahy has previously told News10 that the I.D. number won’t be valid for voting in the case of an undocumented immigrant.
Dalila Yeend is an immigrant from Sydney, Australia, who spent months in an I.C.E. detention center last year, after she was pulled over for a traffic violation and it was discovered that she did not have a valid driver’s license.
She has since gotten her Green Card, and says Merola’s argument about whether or not the law is constitutional lacks merit.
“They just require your identification,” Yeend told News10, “so there would be no information to share with the federal government.”
She says the law will make the roads safer by ensuring everyone on the roads has taken and passed a driving test.
“They will also be registering and ensuring their vehicles,” Yeend told News10.
But Merola says driving is a privilege, not a right.
“I think it’s a lame excuse for trying to get people to register, if they’re here illegally,” Merola told News10.
He added that he feels the training has not prepared his DMV for the changes, and that they definitely won’t be authorizing any foreign documents on Monday, if an undocumented immigrant comes in to the Rensselaer County DMV to apply for a license.