NY House GOP fights to end Green Light

New York’s Green Light Law continues to face challenges. File photo

The New York Republican Congressional delegation asked the U.S. Department of Justice on Thursday to evaluate the constitutionality of Green Light NY.

In a letter to U.S. Attorney General William Barr, the six House representatives — including North County representatives Elise Stefanik, R-21, and Chris Collins, R-27 — raised red flags about the law that allows undocumented immigrants to obtain driver’s licenses in New York.

“This reckless legislation, which a majority of New Yorkers oppose, will hamper efforts to enforce federal immigration laws and has the potential to enable rampant voter fraud in our state,” Stefanik said in a press release Thursday.

The letter argues that by stipulating privacy guidelines so Departments of Motor Vehicles do not release undocumented immigrants’ information, the law creates a discrepancy with federal immigration law. The representatives also raised concerns about voter registration fraud and security.

The most recent polls from the Siena College Research Institute, published this week, found that half of New Yorkers oppose the law, down from 53 percent in August.

Collins did not immediately respond to requests for comment Friday.

A spokesman from Cuomo’s office directed questions to New York Attorney General Letitia James, who remained steadfast regarding the law’s constitutionality.

“The Green Light law aims to make our roads safer and our economy stronger,” James said in a statement. “The law is well-crafted, and as the state’s attorney and chief law enforcement officer, my office will vigorously defend it.”

State Sen. Luis Sepúlveda, D-32, who sponsored Green Light and calls it a model bill, said he’s not concerned that opposition has risen to the federal level.

“Luckily for us, the courts tend to be fair,” he said. “This is more of the same smoke screen actions the GOP always does.”

Narrowly passed by the New York State Legislature in June, this is just the latest challenge Green Light NY has faced since it was signed into law by New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

Two Upstate New York county clerks filed federal lawsuits targeting the new law over the summer, and other county clerks have vowed to not issue licenses to undocumented immigrants come December, when the law goes into effect. Republican state senators have proposed legislation to protect Department of Motor Vehicles employees from termination if they decide not to follow the new law. Proponents for Green Light have raised concerns about the implementation of the law to Mark Schroeder, the commissioner for the state DMV, who has remained radio silent on the issue.

“There are definitely challenges both theoretically and legally,” Bryan MacCormack, executive director of the Columbia County Sanctuary Movement and an organizer in the Green Light NY Coalition, told Johnson Newspapers this month. “But in our organization, we don’t have any doubt that the law is going to be upheld.”

An estimated 265,000 undocumented immigrants, including 64,000 in the Hudson Valley and Northern and Western New York, are expected to seek driver’s licenses within the first three years of Green Light, according to the left-leaning Fiscal Policy Institute. The law is expected to generate $83 million in revenue the first year, and $57 million each year after that.

Proponents of the new law also say that it will foster more safety with more insured drivers and New York state-inspected vehicles on the roads, and fewer hit-and-run crashes.

Sepúlveda said the soundness of the bill is what concerns the GOP, suspecting other states will follow suit with legislations similar to Green Light.

“Come March, people are going to be talking about the success of the law,” he said.

Massarah covers the New York State Legislature and immigration for Johnson Newspaper Corp. Email her at mmikati@columbiagreenemedia.com, or find her on Twitter @massarahmikati.

Johnson Newspapers 7.1

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