November 15 2018

Unauthorized immigs to get driver’s licenses?

For many immigration activists in Queens, getting the state to issue driver’s licenses for undocumented immigrants has been a top priority in recent years.

And now, it’s looking like New York will do just that next year, according to a Queens-based immigrant advocacy group that was at the annual Somo El Futuro conference in Puerto Rico.

“GREAT NEWS! Alphonso David, Counselor to @NYGovCuomo said at #SOMOSPRConference2018’s immigration panel today that Drivers’ Licenses for all, regardless of immigration status, will pass in the upcoming 2019 legislative session!” the group tweeted. “°S’ se puede! #GreenLightNY.”

With the governor on board, the bill would likely not face major opposition in Albany. Democrats enjoy a supermajority in the state Assembly. And with a statewide blue wave in the midterms, they took control of the state Senate from the Republicans.

Twelve states and Washington, DC, let unauthorized immigrants get licenses.

“January can’t come soon enough,” state Sen.-elect Jessica Ramos tweeted in response to the news about the policy.

Many in Queens, like Assemblyman Ron Kim (D-Flushing) and the Minkwon Center for Community Action, have called for the change to be implemented.

Two Democratic candidates for statewide office this year — actor Cynthia Nixon and City Councilman Jumaane Williams (D-Brooklyn) — had also been big advocates of the policy.

Kim and Assemblymembers Nily Rozic (D-Fresh Meadows), Andrew Hevesi (D-Forest Hills) and Aravella Simotas (D-Astoria) sponsored a bill in their chamber this year that would have codified the policy into law, but it never went to a vote. Neither did its state Senate counterpart.

In 2007, then-Gov. Eliot Spitzer backed off from an effort to issue licenses to undocumented immigrants in the face of intense backlash.