New York Driver’s Licenses for Undocumented Immigrants?
In the upcoming weeks, New York state legislators in Albany will vote on a bill which could allow undocumented immigrants to obtain New York state driver’s licenses. The bill is currently in committee with the New York state Senate and is expected to be voted on by state congress before being presented for signature to Governor Andrew Cuomo by the end of this legislative session in June. As a New York immigration lawyer, I summarize the implications of this bill.
What is the history of the bill?
Over a decade ago, then-Gov. Eliot Spitzer attempted to pass a bill that permitted undocumented immigrants to obtain New York driver’s licenses. His attempt was unsuccessful encountering opposition from local government officials, lawmakers, and the New York public. The question of driver’s licenses for New York’s estimated 940,000 undocumented immigrants has now resurfaced at the Capitol. Executive Director of the New York Immigration Coalition, Steven Choi, is optimistic regarding the bill stating that they “expect both houses will finally act this year and Gov. Cuomo will sign this important legislation into law.’’
What will happen undocumented immigrants in New York if the bill is passed?
The Migration Policy Institute estimates that 940,000 undocumented immigrants live in the state of New York. If the bill passes, undocumented immigrants in the state will be allowed to take a test to obtain a New York state driver’s license. Advocates of the bill argue that instead of driving without a license, the new law will allow undocumented immigrants to obtain proper driving qualifications resulting in a safer environment for all drivers on New York’s roads. Additionally, the new law will allow undocumented immigrants to obtain car insurance, thereby decreasing the number of accidents involving uninsured drivers. From an immigration law standpoint, one of the biggest advantages of the new law will be that undocumented immigrants who obtain driver’s licenses may no longer be charged with driving without a license – a charge that has forced many undocumented immigrants into immigration detention across the US.
If you are wondering how this bill may impact your immigration case, I recommend you contact an experienced immigration lawyer. As part of our immigration lawyer New York services, we always evaluate the implications of the latest laws and developments for our clients’ immigration cases. If you are searching for an “immigration attorney near me” please contact our New York immigration law firm office.
Who will be most affected by the bill?
If New York state legislators pass the bill, according to the Fiscal Policy Institute, an estimated 265,000 undocumented immigrants in the state of New York will be able to obtain driver’s licenses. Reportedly 64,000 of the state’s undocumented immigrants reside north of New York City where driving is a daily necessity. The New York state and county governments expect to see an increase in revenues totaling $57 if undocumented immigrants are allowed to obtain drivers licenses.
Advocates have explained that the undocumented immigrant driver’s license dilemma is a significant issue in upstate New York, where public transportation is less available and individuals have to drive to their place of employment. In these parts of New York state, undocumented immigrants have to drive without a license and face the possibility of arrests and deportation proceedings if they wish to provide basic necessities for their families.
If you are concerned about the consequences of driving without a license, I recommend you speak with an experienced immigration lawyer. As part of our immigration attorney New York services, we always evaluate the implications of the latest laws for our clients’ immigration cases. If you are searching for an “immigration attorney near me” please contact our New York immigration law firm office.
Which states allow undocumented immigrants to obtain a driver’s license?
Twelve states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico already authorize undocumented immigrants to obtain a driver’s license or a driving permit. The states which authorize undocumented immigrants to obtain driver’s licenses include: California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Maryland, New Mexico, Nevada, Utah, Vermont, and Washington.
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