Statewide Day of Action: Immigrant Advocates Turn Up the Heat on Leg Support for Driver’s Licenses

March 22nd, 2019

Advocates mobilize in Long Island, Westchester and New York City, calling for NYS to expand access to driver’s licenses for all New Yorkers

NEW YORK, NY – Today hundreds of members of the Green Light NY coalition – from Long Island, Westchester and New York City – joined together to hold a day of action calling on members of the State Legislature to act on legislation that would expand access to driver’s licenses for all New Yorkers, regardless of immigration status, as part of the state budget. With the April 1st budget deadline looming, activists are raising the stakes on lawmakers by mobilizing a demonstration of grassroots support in their districts to keep the pressure on them to act now on immigrant-friendly legislation.

In New York City, Asian American community members rallied outside State Senator and Deputy Majority Leader Michael Gianaris’ office, calling for him to build legislative support to expand access to driver’s licenses for all New Yorkers.

On Long Island members and allies are canvassing across Suffolk and Nassau counties, where they will continue to educate their neighbors and author postcards to representatives including State Senators Anna Kaplan, Todd Kaminsky, Monica Martinez, John Brooks, and James Gaughran asking for their support for the legislation, as well.

In Westchester County, community members were driving calls and signing petitions targeting Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins, asking her to put action behind her support for driver’s licenses.

“With a week to go in the budget season, New Yorkers across the state are sending lawmakers back to Albany with a clear message – get driver’s licenses done, now. Expanding access to driver’s licenses for all New Yorkers will create safer roads for everyone, while providing security for our immigrant families and economic gains for the state. This legislation will allow our undocumented neighbors to obtain a license only after going through the same process that every other New Yorker must successfully complete to earn a license. This is a common sense bill, and New York needs to catch up with the twelve other states that have already made this happen. From Westchester to Long Island, we call on our state legislators to make a commitment to road safety and keeping immigrant families together, by making access to driver’s licenses a priority in this year’s budget,” said Steven Choi, Executive Director of the New York Immigration Coalition.

"We have over 200 organizations across the state that have have signed on to the Green  Light campaign and more are joining our cause each day. Our coalition members are committed to making sure New York State lawmakers and the communities they represent are equipped with clear information about the many benefits of restoring driver's license access to those who have been barred from applying for a license based on immigration status alone. The time to act on this issue is now,” said Emma Kreyche, Statewide Coordinator, Green Light NY Campaign, Worker Justice Center of New York.

"NY State should be providing an opportunity for all immigrants - regardless of their current legal status - to be able to access a driver's license.  New York is synonymous with welcoming immigrants of all backgrounds and Driver's Licenses for All ensures that everyone can drive legally and come out of the shadows to more fully participate in our communities,” said Michelle de la Uz, Executive Director of Fifth Avenue Committee, Inc.

"Putting Driver's Licenses for All in the budget and championing it through the legislature is simply the right thing to do, and we call on our leaders in the NYS Senate to stand up and do the right thing. We are working with community members who would not be in deportation proceedings if NYS had Driver's Licenses for All. This cannot wait another year. Both Red and Blue states are driving this country in the right direction because it makes sense. Since a decade ago, the number states adopting Driver's Licenses for All has doubled to twelve and continues to grow. We are falling our communities and falling behind where we should be leading. This is common sense on every level, from safety, revenue, and increasing the number of people insured on the streets. More importantly, it's about keeping families together and making New York a welcome place for all,” said John Park, Executive Director of the Minkwon Center for Community Action.

"NYS has the power to implement Drivers Licenses for ALL of its residents. Those residents include students, educators, innovators, friends and family members. The undocumented community serves NYS through economic advances, yet they are faced with fear on the risk of deportation. We call ALL NYS politicians to make change happen and to not delay this longer!" said Maria Jose Guzman, Co-President of CUNY DREAMers.

"We are proud to stand strongly together with organizations from every corner of the state, all of us recognizing the critical need for legal access to driver's licenses forall New Yorkers, regardless of their immigration status. We will continue to stand up, speak out, and demand our government officials do the same.   It is unconscionable that people who have come to the United States seeking sanctuary are being put in the position of breaking the law by virtue of driving their children to the doctor.  Our immigrant community helps make New York the great state it is today. It is long overdue for Albany to make driver's licenses for all a reality," said Ann Toback, Executive Director of the Workmen's Circle.


Expanding access to driver’s licenses for all will allow undocumented New Yorkers to obtain a driver’s license only after successfully completing a pre-licensing or driver education course, passing a road test, and providing proof of residency – the same exact process every other New Yorker must go through in order to earn a license.

According to a memo released by the Global Strategy Group, support for the issue rises dramatically when constituents are provided with this basic education that undocumented immigrants must meet the same requirements for a driver’s license as anyone else in New York.