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Sen. Griffo Joined by Area Officials Outlining Concerns With
"Green Light Bill" to Allow Driver's Licences for Illegal Immigrants

June 11, 2019   07:30 p.m.
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    Press Release from Senator Griffo's Office:

    Griffo, Picente, Maciol, DePerno and Carpinelli outline concerns with “Green
    Light Bill”

    New York State Deputy Minority Leader Joseph Griffo, R-I-C-Rome, Oneida
    County Executive Anthony J. Picente Jr., Oneida County Sheriff and New York
    State Sheriff’s Association President Rob Maciol, Lewis County Sheriff Michael
    Carpinelli and Oneida County Clerk Sandy DePerno today raised concerns they
    have with the “Green Light Bill.”

    The legislation would allow illegal immigrants to apply for standard driver’s
    licenses using forms of foreign identification.

    The New York Association of County Clerks opposes the legislation since they
    cannot vet documents from other countries. This legislative change also will
    result in the need for additional staff to assist with language translation needs,
    according to the association. While some county operated motor vehicle
    departments have translators on staff or systems in place to help with such
    needs, this function is scaled for current need levels and is limited to a handful of
    languages. If this legislation passes, estimates of over 200,000 new applicants
    will be immediately eligible for licenses. Counties would have to pick up the tab
    for hiring employees to deal with an influx of applicants as well.

    Law enforcement officials also have expressed concerns that the legislation
    could affect public safety and make it more difficult for law enforcement agencies
    to do their jobs.

    An additional concern with the legislation is that many states, including New
    York, use their Departments of Motor Vehicles to enroll voters. Since New York
    does not have voter identification laws like the majority of other states do, this bill
    also could increase the potential for voter fraud.

    Deputy Minority Leader Griffo said, “Despite legitimate concerns from law
    enforcement, opposition from county clerks and two Siena College polls that
    show New Yorkers do not support providing driver’s licenses to illegal
    immigrants, downstate Democrats are continuing to push this idea forward. While
    social issues are important, we are nearing the end of this year’s legislative
    session. We should be focusing our energy and attention on more pressing
    matters such as improving our aging infrastructure, growing jobs, reducing
    regulations and providing tax relief. Unfortunately, instead of addressing the real
    issues affecting our state, these downstate Democrats would rather make
    headlines instead of headway.”

    Oneida County Executive Anthony J. Picente Jr. said, “This bill is the
    epitome of what’s wrong with downstate politicians. This is an ill-advised plan
    that is opposed by law enforcement, county clerks and the majority of New
    Yorkers. Albany needs to stop going down its current path, and focus on the
    issues that matter to people here in Oneida County and Central New York:
    Repairing their aging infrastructure, growing jobs, fighting the opioid epidemic
    and providing upstate counties real relief from crushing mandates and
    regulations.”

    Oneida County Clerk DePerno said, “As your Oneida County Clerk, I am
    strongly opposed to the ‘Greenlight Bill.’ I serve as the county-level commissioner
    of Motor Vehicles working in partnership with the New York State Department of
    Motor Vehicles. My staff is not equipped to verify the authenticity of a foreign
    document such as a birth certificate. I feel that if this bill is passed, it will be force
    my DMV employees and myself to be immigration authorities, which is a federal
    responsibility. Legislation to provide driver licenses to people who are here
    illegally circumvents federal law. I was sworn to uphold the U.S. Constitution.
    This bill will put my fellow county clerks and myself in a compromising position of
    violating our oath of office. Utica is a melting pot for many of our immigrants.
    They have come to this area, went through the process and are now an asset to
    our community. Allowing illegal immigrants to circumvent the system is just plain
    wrong. As Oneida County Clerk, I will not provide driver’s licenses to illegal
    immigrants.”

    Oneida County Sheriff and New York State Sheriff’s Association President
    Maciol said, “There are certain provisions contained in this legislation that
    should be of serious concern to all New York State law enforcement agencies.
    Should this bill become law, my office would have to certify to the state
    Department of Motor Vehicles, as a condition of maintaining access to their
    records databases, that I will not turn over any of the information I obtain to
    federal authorities responsible for enforcing civil immigration law. I also would be
    required to keep records of my own about how every piece of data I obtain from
    the Department of Motor Vehicles is used for a period of five years. This record
    retention proposal would be nearly impossible, without significant expense, for
    any agency to maintain. Additionally, this bill would require that the Department
    of Motor Vehicles notify individuals when federal immigration authorities do
    access their records through a judicial warrant or subpoena, which I believe
    creates a serious risk to public safety. I would strongly urge the legislature to
    consider these issues, which will negatively impact all law enforcement as well as
    the public.”

    Lewis County Sheriff Carpinelli said, “The ‘Green Light Bill’ is a dangerous
    piece of legislation that will tie the hands of justice and puts the public and law
    enforcement in danger. I am concerned this legislation, which I believe is a
    political stunt, will have a detrimental effect on law enforcement agencies and
    could lead to more voter fraud taking place in New York State.”

    More than two-thirds of states do not allow illegal immigrants to drive at all. The
    handful of states that do permit illegal immigrants to obtain licenses require
    substantially tighter proof of identification and may impose limitations on driving
    to incentivize naturalization. For example, Utah only allows illegal immigrants to
    obtain licenses for a period of one year; the District of Columbia offers limited
    purpose licenses; Connecticut requires that an illegal applicant file for citizenship;
    and many remaining states require a tax identification number, tax returns or
    proof that an illegal immigrant has become the dependent of a state taxpayer.
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