A controversial bill giving illegal immigrants the right to obtain a New York driver’s license is one step closer to becoming law after the state assembly’s vote passed 86-47.
The bill will now head to the New York Senate for approval before hitting Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s desk for a final signature. Cuomo has already stated that he intends to sign the bill if it makes it to him.
If passed, residents could use foreign passports and other foreign-issued documents as valid identification for the Department of Motor Vehicles when applying for a driver’s license.
This has been a sticking point in the bill as the state’s Association of County Clerks argue it would be difficult to verify the authenticity of foreign documents at the county level.
“County level DMVs have not been required to verify foreign documents in the past as this is currently a federal function, most commonly done during the working visa process,” the president of the bipartisan association said in a public statement, according to the Press-Republican.
Republican New York Sen. Tom O’Mara blasted the governor for supporting the bill, claiming New York will become a “haven for lawbreakers.”
“Governor Cuomo and the Democratic leaders of the Legislature are making New York State a haven for lawbreakers,” said O’ Mara on NYsenate.gov. “… Following outrageous parole releases and other questionable actions in the name of ‘criminal justice,’ the next step is to reward lawbreaking illegal immigrants with a government-issued driver’s license.”
Those who support the law cite lowered insurance costs, less hit-and-runs and greater means of transportation for undocumented workers as major benefits of its passing.
But support of the bill outside the greater metro area of New York City is low. According to a Siena poll back in March, 61% of voters polled opposed the law.
There are currently 12 states in the U.S. that issue driver’s licenses to illegal immigrants, including Puerto Rico, a U.S. territory, and the District of Columbia.