New York’s “Green Light” law, which allows illegal immigrants to obtain driver’s licenses without having to provide proof of citizenship, went into effect over the weekend.
Applicants are already lining up outside DMV offices in the state, according to News 12 Westchester. Some county clerks expressed concern over the quantity of new license applications, saying that they have not received enough training or sufficient equipment to handle the influx.
The law requires an applicant 16 years old or older to provide documents showing name, date of birth, and proof of residency in New York state. It does not require a Social Security number, but does mandate that noncitizen applicants sign an affidavit stating they have never been issued a Social Security number.
In place of a Social Security number, the state will now accept a valid foreign passport, foreign driver’s license, or permanent resident card, among other forms of documentation.
— The Hill (@thehill) December 16, 2019
The law, passed in the summer of 2019, has provoked numerous legal challenges. A district judge threw out a lawsuit from a county clerk challenging the law on the grounds that it put the state’s policy in direct conflict with federal immigration law. The judge did not uphold or negate the law’s legality, but ruled the clerk did not have standing to challenge it. The lawsuit was the second such legal challenge to be thrown out by a judge. A third challenge from a Niagara County clerk is still pending.
The Department of Justice expressed concern over the law as well. “The Act’s disclosure restrictions are wide-reaching and appear aimed at frustrating the federal government’s enforcement of the immigration laws,” the department’s attorneys said.
New York is the 13th state to enact a “Green Light” policy, and it will impact an estimated 882,000 people in the state. “Local officials, including the county clerks who run DMV offices, cannot choose which laws they like and which they will disregard,” DMV spokeswoman Lisa Koumjian said, according to the Democrat & Chronicle. “If a clerk is unwilling to follow state law, he or she should resign their office.”
- Undocumented immigrants line up to obtain driver’s license in New York City on December 16, 2019.: Screen grab