New York Assembly Passes Drivers’ Licenses For Illegal Aliens: Senate Uncertain
By David Jaroslav | June 13, 2019
The New York State Assembly has passed the so-called Green Light Bill, Assembly Bill (AB) 3675, which requires the Empire State’s Department of Motor Vehicles to issue drivers’ licenses to illegal aliens. However, the bill still might not have the votes to pass the State Senate as time winds down toward a scheduled June 19 adjournment date.
Polls continue to show that a clear majority of New Yorkers oppose giving drivers’ licenses to illegal aliens. Over the past few months, open-borders groups have joined forces with big business, big labor and Albany politicians to generate support for the bill, but more recently, many state and local officials, especially outside New York City, have responded with strong and growing opposition.
Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie (D-Bronx) has said since May that he had the votes to easily pass the bill in his chamber. On June 12, after lengthy debate on the Assembly floor, it passed by a vote of 87-61. Notably, 18 Democrats joined all 43 Republicans in voting No.
In debate, Assemblyman (Assemb.) Marcus Crespo (D-Bronx), the bill’s sponsor, repeatedly dismissed concerns raised by members opposing it. Assemblywoman Nicole Malliotakis (R-Staten Island) asked if he realized that by trying to hide information on illegal aliens, and by requiring them to disclose if immigration officials asked for that information, the bill would be telling DMV staff to commit a federal crime, shielding or harboring aliens in violation of 8 U.S.C. § 1324. He simply said he disagreed. He added that he thought the 9-11 hijackers having numerous drivers’ licenses somehow helped law enforcement to investigate and the bill would help further.
When asked if he’d even met or heard directly from the Association of County Clerks, who work with DMV to issue licenses and strongly oppose the bill, Crespo admitted he had not, and said there were “methods” and “training” for clerks to verify foreign identity documents, though Assemb.. Mary Beth Walsh (R-Ballston) said the clerks had actually told her that that would be an “enormous task.”
Crespo said he’d “like to debate whether voter fraud exists,” even when confronted by Assemb.. Doug Smith (R-Holbrook) with real examples of non-citizens who had already voted asking to be removed from the rolls when they later applied for citizenship. And when he was asked if he’d talked to his own county board of elections, Crespo admitted he had not “with regard to this bill.”
Assembly Minority Leader Brian Kolb (R-Canandaigua) asked, “[w]hy should there be special rules and special loopholes for others to follow when everybody else had to follow the law to get a driver's license?” Assemb. Michael LiPetri (R-Massapequa) echoed the point, saying, “Assembly Democrats are sending the message that breaking the law should be met with leniency and reward, rather than consequence and punishment — a disturbing precedent to set[.]”
And speaking for those Democratic members who opposed the bill, Assemb.. Angelo Santabarbara (D- Schenectady) said “[t]here’s a lot of rights and privileges that come with citizenship … The correct thing to do is become a citizen, get on a path to citizenship, just like my parents went through.” Open-borders activists immediately condemned Democrats like him and Assemb. Sean Ryan (D-Buffalo), who refused to toe the party line and didn’t want to give this privilege to lawbreakers.
The bill’s chance of passage in the Senate is much less certain than it was in the Assembly. Both Governor Andrew Cuomo (D) and New York Democratic Party Chairman Jay Jacobs have said they don’t think it has the votes to make it through the upper chamber.
Attention has particularly focused on the “Long Island Six”: freshmen Democrat senators elected by narrow margins in historically Republican districts, two of whom, Anna Kaplan (D-Great Neck) and Kevin Thomas (D-Garden City), have already announced their opposition. But there are a few other undecided Democrat senators across the state as well. The Senate version of the bill, Senate Bill (SB) 1747, has 25 cosponsors, but it would need 32 votes to pass.
Cuomo has promised to sign the Green Light Bill if it does pass. But with less than a week to go in the legislative session, the fate of the driver’s licenses bill for illegal aliens in New York remains unclear.