Advocates March on Sen. Stewart-Cousins’ Office to Escalate Pressure on the Senate to Expand Access to Driver’s Licenses

New York, NY– Today, hundreds of advocates marched to and rallied at the district office of Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins to put pressure on the Senate to commit to passing the Driver’s Licenses and Privacy act before the end of session.

As momentum builds towards an Assembly vote on the Greenlight NY bill (A10273/SO868) next week, which would offer access to drivers licenses for approximately 265,000 immigrant New Yorkers, pressure is mounting on Senate leadership who still haven’t said whether it will take up the measure.

Participating electeds, law enforcement officials and organizations issued the following statements:

Port Chester Police Chief Richard Conway said, "Chief of Police of the Village of Port Chester, supports  Luz Verde campaign, which permits Driver's Licenses for all migrant brothers. I call on politicians in Albany to consider and pass a law that makes it possible for immigrants to obtain a license and thus guarantee and improve safety on our streets, and better contribute to our cities."

Claudia Romero, Coordinator of Small Businesses and Relations for the office of Connecticut State Senator Juan Candelaria, representing 97th district New Haven, CT  said,  "The most valuable and productive access to driver's license has been the enormous economic benefit for business and also for the department of engines and vehicles not only of CT but also of other states, since to access the license one had to be to the day in the payment of tickets and not having any pending debt, the immigrants have contributed millions in concept of payments to the DMV to give the written and driving exams and have invested in the purchase of vehicles and registration payments and insurance!"

Murad Awawdeh, VP of Advocacy, New York Immigration Coalition said:

“Time is running out for the state Senate to do the right thing for immigrants in New York. The Assembly next week will show its support for New York’s hardworking immigrants by passing the Greenlight NY bill. We expect the Senate leadership ---Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins, and Senate Deputy Leader Mike Gianaris ---to stand up, show courage, and put the Greenlight bill to a vote, so Gov. Cuomo can do what he has promised to do--sign it into law. This is not the time to play political games with people's lives. The Green Light NY bill will help protect immigrants while also making our roads safer for all New Yorkers."

“Driver license for immigrants is a healthcare issue and you may wonder why. The access to healthcare is affected by not having mobility which leads to a more complicated health condition. We advocate for all of our patients and the right to access to healthcare and their caregivers to accompany them. Sometimes our patients doesn’t have someone who can pick them up after being discharged or bring them in because their family members don’t have a drivers license.  Immigrants deserve protection and healthcare access as hard workers who contributes to our society,” said Kathy Hoffer, New York State Nurses Association, member.

"This is it! The Green Light Bill passing has never mattered more. As we enter our last push for Senator Andrea Stuart-Cousins, Governor Cuomo and other representatives across New York to consider this right to access, we recognize the tireless work of all the advocates and the unyielding hope of all families to have the right to safely drive for so many reasons. It is now in the hands of our law makers," said Jirandy Martinez, Executive Director of Community Resource Center.

"It is time for Andrea Stewart Cousins to act and bring the vote to the floor. She needs to act on her conscience and do what is right for all New Yorkers,” said Judy McQuistion, Immigration Committee Chairperson for CD-16 Indivisible.

"Having a license would help stop exploitation and abuse that we encounter every day, particularly in the field of landscaping, construction and moving. Many times our employers will purposely drop us as far from home to avoid having to pay us. We would be able to drive our companies vehicles without fear," said Vicente Ruiz, President of Obreros Unidos.   

"Yonkers Sanctuary Movement believes that now is the time to restore access to driver's licenses in New York State. Our family members, neighbors, and friends should be able to get to work, school, doctors' offices, and grocery stores safely, without fear that a broken tail light could lead to permanent separation from their loved ones. We are calling on State Sen. Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins and other state senators to step up and pass this common-sense bill,” said Diana Sanchez from the Yonkers Sanctuary Movement.

Pastor Drew Paton said, “Among the first and most fundamental freedoms God grants is the freedom of movement. It is by our free movement that we - like our ancestors before us - pursue the safety and well-being of our families. If we deny people the right to drive, we take from them their freedom. It’s time to set God’s people free.”

Background

Twelve states already allow undocumented immigrants to obtain driver’s licenses. Studies show doing so leads to a reduction in uninsured drivers and hit-and-run accidents.  

In New York, there has been growing support for the bill. Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie has been a vocal supporter of the legislation and Gov. Cuomo has said he will sign it if it passes both houses.

In addition, this week, 20 Long Island elected officials came out in support of GreenLight NY.

And Law enforcement from across the state, including Albany County Sheriff Craig Apple, Ulster County Sheriff Juan Figueroa Sheriff, Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez, and Bronx District Attorney Darcel Clark have also come out in support restoring the right to undocumented immigrants to obtain driver’s licenses.

Also backing the bill as good public policy are such groups as the Business Council of New York State, New York State Vegetable Growers Association, the NY Insurance Association, and The New York Smart Growth Coalition.


Need legal assistance?

Call the NYS Immigration Hotline at 1-800-566-7636 or view our directory of service providers here