February 21 2019

Immig advocates call for new license policy (Queens Chronicle)

Advocates say allowing undocumented immigrants in the state to apply for driver’s licenses would be a win for the economy and public safety.

City Comptroller Scott Stringer

City Comptroller Scott Stringer joined the MinKwon Center for Community Action, Make the Road New York, the Fiscal Policy Institute and the New York Immigration Coalition last Friday to call for the state to implement the policy, pointing to data they said strengthens their case.

“The time is now for Albany to expand access to all New Yorkers because granting licenses isn’t just a statement of our moral values, it also makes sense from both a financial and public safety perspective,” Stringer said in a prepared statement.

Having more car operators learn how to drive, proponents say, would dramatically improve safety on roads. Stringer’s office also cited a study which found that keeping undocumented immigrants from getting car insurance increases its cost for licensed drivers by $17.22 per person annually.

The District of Columbia and twelve states already allow unauthorized immigrants to get licenses.

New York might do the same this year, with Democrats having totally taken over the state Legislature in January. Gov. Cuomo backs legislation that would legalize the policy.

Stringer’s office has found that 150,000 of around 525,000 undocumented immigrants in the city would get licenses were the proposal adopted. Auto sales would go up by 2.7 percent, he estimates.

The policy would bring the state $9.6 million in driver’s license fees and $1.4 million of that money would go to the MTA, according to the Comptroller’s Office.

Stringer also estimates that via gasoline tax revenues, the policy would generate $5.2 million for highway and bridge infrastructure and $3.1 million for mass transit.

“This legislation is a win-win-win for our state: it will help our economy, improve public safety, and protect immigrants,” Make the Road New York Co-Executive Director Javier Valdés said in his own statement.