Driver’s Licenses Coalition and Lawmakers Hail Assembly Passage of Green Light NY Bill To Expand Access to Driver’s Licenses

June 13th, 2019

Call On State Senate To Act And Gov. Cuomo to Help Make It Happen

New York, NY– Today, the Green Light Coalition and state lawmakers hailed the Assembly’s historic passage of legislation that would make New York the 13th state to allow undocumented immigrants to obtain driver's licenses and called on the Senate to take up the bill before legislative session ends next week.

Steve Choi, executive director of the New York Immigration Coalition, convener of the Greenlight Coalition, said, "We applaud Speaker Heastie and the Assembly for doing the right thing and passing the Green Light NY bill that will bring hundreds of thousands of immigrants out from the shadows and make New York's roads safer. Our Democrat state Senate was elected by the people for these kinds of votes and call on Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins and Deputy Leader Mike Gianaris to bring the bill to the floor for a vote. We also urge Gov. Cuomo to put his political muscle behind his stated support for the bill and help bring this issue over the finish line."

Assembly Member Marcos Crespo said, “Today the NYS assembly majority reaffirms its commitment to put NY families first, make our roads safer for all, lower insurance costs for all, increase our state revenues and of course remind us that our immigrant families are vital to the growth and success of NYS. For me, this bill also represents the respect and honor I owe generations of immigrants like my father who came here to give me a chance to succeed. And this bill offers future generations of immigrants a chance to do the same. To all the green light coalition members, volunteers and supporters I say thank you, the historic vote that took place in the Assembly would not have been possible without you. But work remains as we fight to ensure the NYS Senate does the same.”

State Senator Luis Sepulveda said, "By now we know that the Green Light Bill is necessary in New York state to strengthen our economy, safety, and communities. Today, as we face increased racism and xenophobia across our country, this bill takes on even greater importance as a testament of solidarity with our immigrant neighbors, and a commitment to combating discrimination against Black & Brown communities. The Green Light Bill is a crucial civil rights issue and I thank my colleagues for stepping up and uniting us in this effort to pass this legislation."

Carola Bracco, Executive Director of Neighbor’s Link, said, “We are gratified to see that the New York State Assembly has the courage to pass this very critical legislation and we call on the Senate to do the same immediately. Immigrant New Yorkers are a vital part of our economy and community, and we must extend to them the tools they need to thrive and succeed.”

Jennifer Connor, an organizer with Justice for Migrant Families WNY, said, “We applaud the Assembly Members who have worked hard to move this bill forward and who have spoken out to support New York's immigrant families and advocate for better road safety through the increase of licensed and insured drivers. We urge the Senate to pass Green Light New York now, for all of the reasons it makes sense, benefits like road safety, economic benefits, stronger social fabric and people being able to meet their basic daily needs. Western New York needs this badly, to support farms, families, and everyone on the road.”

Clara Cortes, Long Island resident and member of Make the Road New York, said, “The State Assembly passing to restore access to driver’s licenses to all qualified New Yorkers is an historic win for immigrants. Countless times I have missed my daughter’s school meetings due to the lack of public transportation in Long Island and often I have to rely on my husband to drive me to my doctor’s appointments. The Green Light NY bill will make sure eligible immigrants like me can go through the same process as everyone else: submit an application, take a road test, and, if I pass, obtain a license. Now, all eyes are on the Long Island Senate Democrats, who must stand on the right side of history and pass driver’s licenses for all now.”

Héctor Figueroa, President of 32BJ SEIU, said, “We applaud the passage of  ‘Green Light NY’, a law that ensures all drivers in the state are trained, licensed, and insured. This is good for everyone, and would make New York roads safer for all -- and potentially save millions of dollars—by greatly reducing the number of uninsured drivers on the road and reducing hit-and-run accidents. Laws like Green Light NY are working in twelve states and they will work in New York. With bills like this, our state is choosing to integrate into our community all those who live here, unlike President Trump, whose policies seek to exclude and divide. Allowing all New Yorkers who need to drive to work and live with dignity is a matter of basic decency. We urge the Senate to approve this important law.”

Rebecca Fuentes, organizer with the Workers’ Center of CNY, said, “The Workers’ Center of CNY members and allies are very thankful to the Assembly legislators, especially to Assemblymembers Bill Magnareli and Pam Hunter, whose courage today gave passage to the Green Light Bill. Our rural immigrant community in Upstate NY need freedom of movement, to safely take their children to the doctor, go to guy groceries and go to work. Many live in isolation, leaving the farms where they work a few times a month and having to pay a lot of money to other people to drive them. At a time when the federal government is targeting our immigrant communities everyday and many local police are participants in the injustice, a driver’s license is one step forward for NY to protect and defend our friends and families who already contribute so much to the state. We ask the Senate to take the same steps now, because everyday this bill is not the law in NY more immigrants are at risk of deportation.”

Amaha Kassa, Executive Director of African Communities Together, said, "As an organization for hundreds of thousands of African immigrant New Yorkers, we know that driver's license access for all is a Black issue. Many of our members are cab drivers, delivery workers, and small business owners who need licenses to make a living. We applaud the Assembly for passing the Green Light NY bill. Now it's time for the NY Senate to step up and make  driver's license access for all a reality."

Emma Kreyche, Statewide Coordinator of Greenlight NY with the Workers Justice Center of NY, said, "WJCNY applauds the Assembly for voting to restore access to driver's licenses for all New Yorkers, regardless of immigration status. We extend our heartfelt gratitude to Speaker Heastie, Assemblyman Crespo, and all our champions in the Assembly for their leadership and perseverance. The Green Light bill is especially important for farmworkers, whose labor sustains New York's agricultural economy. Without licenses, farmworkers are isolated and vulnerable—cut off from access to basic services and unable to move freely without fear of being detained and deported over minor traffic infractions. We are counting on the Senate to follow suit and pass this common sense legislation. It would be unconscionable to let this bill languish in the face of the federal government's sustained attacks against hardworking immigrant New Yorkers."

John Park, Executive Director of the MinKwon Center for Community Action, said, "We thank the NYS Assembly for doing the right thing and passing Driver's Licenses for All. The only thing that could derail this common-sense bill that would benefit all New Yorkers is if Senate leaders, like Deputy Majority Leader Michael Gianaris in Queens, lacks the courage to ensure it gets on the Senate floor for a vote. New York stands behind all its immigrants, which is why the NYS Dream Act easily passed with 40 Senate votes earlier this year—not in spite of "Dream Act" being in the title, but because of it. It is a lie that this will negatively impact party politics, because the only way this will be felt by anyone who currently opposes the bill is more money in their pockets due to lower insurance costs, safer roads, and more funding for the State. We need our Senators to stop hiding behind cowardly and blatantly false excuses and let the bill pass the finish line. If our Senate leaders do not represent all immigrants, they don't deserve to continue representing us."

State Senator Jamal Bailey said, “The Greenlight bill is more than just a bill that grants driver's licenses to undocumented New Yorkers. It is a bill that increases public safety for all, and civil justice. I am proud to support this bill along with my colleagues in government. I want to thank Senator Sepulveda for his leadership on this issue.”

State Senator Brian A. Benjamin said, “There are those who say that passing the Green Light bill would jeopardize public safety. I believe that the opposite is true. If we don’t pass this bill we would be harming public safety for the undocumented families, who live in neighborhoods where driving is essential for basic necessities. Furthermore, for those who drive without a license there is public safety concerns for the rest of us because these are uninsured drivers, who are incentivized to flee the scene of an accident for fear of deportation. New York is better than that.”

Assemblyman Michael Blake said, "With such diversity in our state, and particularly in The Bronx, we cannot rely on Washington to institute immigration reform and ensure the safety of our immigrant communities. Providing driver's licenses will bring more of our Sisters and Brothers out of the shadows and open the doors of opportunity, whether it be seeking employment, healthcare, or an education from which they would otherwise be deterred. By making driver's licenses more available, we will make our communities safer, for both our immigrant friends, neighbors and colleagues, as well as every single New Yorker."

Assembly Member Kevin Cahill said, “Ensuring public safety is a primary function of government and returning to a standard that provides the opportunity to obtain driver licenses to responsible people, without regard to their national origin or documentation, will facilitate that.  In much of New York, driving is the primary means of transportation. It is well documented that credentialed drivers are better trained on the rules of the road and are more likely to be insured, thus making the streets safer for other motorists, bikers and pedestrians. People striving to obey the rules should be given the chance. I am proud to cosponsor and advance Green Light legislation and am grateful for the strong advocacy from every part of our community from activists to law enforcement and from civil rights advocates to farmers.”

Assembly Member Catalina Cruz said, “Later today, the Assembly will take the first step in correcting a historical wrong. For almost 20 years, undocumented New Yorkers have been deprived of the ability to apply for and obtain drivers licenses- a change that was clearly based on anti-immigrant sentiment and not in sound policy. As a formerly undocumented New Yorker, I know first hand what anti-immigrant sentiment looks like. We have seen numbers- this policy makes sense for our community, it will bring much needed funds to our coffers, create safer streets and protect immigrant families. I want to commend my colleagues who will vote yes today and plead with anyone opposing this proposal to place safety and fiscal implications in your communities over animus for a group of people who simply want to survive. Today we will see who truly stands with immigrants and who only uses us as a talking point for political gain.”

State Senator David Carlucci said, "This legislation will keep our roads safer for all drivers. Undocumented immigrants will have to pass a driving test and will be able to get insurance. Now if an accident happens, all drivers will be protected. Further, this bill will reduce insurance rates for everyone by about 10-20 percent. It’s estimated that it will also generate $57 million in annual revenue for the state from licensing and registration fees. This legislation makes sense and has my full support."

Assembly Member Den Dekker said, “Regardless of where you were born, every resident of my community should be able to earn the right to operate a motor vehicle, provided that they pass the written test and the road test. While NYC has one of the best mass transportation systems in the country, not every area of our state is as transportation-friendly. The availability to either drive for a living or to be able to transport your family to school, doctor’s appointments, or shopping is essential to each and every New Yorker. I proudly support the passage of this important legislation and commend the sponsor, Marcos Crespo.”

Assembly Member Jeffrey Dinowitz said, “I am proud to support Green Light legislation to allow all New Yorkers to apply for driver licenses – regardless of immigration status. Allowing all drivers to apply for a license will make our local economies more productive and our roads safer. We must ignore the xenophobic undertones coming from some of the opposition to this legislation and I am proud that the Assembly has continued to lead the way on creating a New York that is welcoming to everyone.”

Assembly Member Nathalia Fernandez said, “Every New Yorker should have the right to drive on our streets safe and insured. These are not privileges that should be barred from different groups of people. Undocumented residents are still constituents of our communities, and we owe it to them to represent their interests as well. I am proud to support this legislation and the communities who will be positively affected by this landmark decision.”

Assembly Member Richard N. Gottfried said, “Licensed drivers are safer drivers.  Allowing all New Yorkers to apply for driver’s licenses is a critical step towards making our roads safer, boosting our state’s economy, and protecting hardworking New Yorkers and their families.”

Assembly Member Andrew Hevesi said, “We must pass the GreenLight NY bill  to ensure that New York’s ‘Standard Licenses’ become accessible to all state residents, regardless of immigration status. This legislation will increase safety on our roads, grow our economy, and improve community relationships. It is critical to the well-being of all New Yorkers that this legislation pass this year.”

State Senator Brad Hoylman said, “The Green Light bill is a commonsense measure that will protect public safety and save consumers money and has earned the approval of many of New York's leading business organizations. I'm proud to support it. I thank my Assembly colleagues for moving forward on this legislation and look forward to working with my colleagues in the Senate to get this done.”

Assembly Member Jonathan Jacobson said, "It's a question of public safety. I want everyone driving on the roads to be licensed and insured."

State Senator Robert Jackson said, “I support the Green Light Bill 100%. As African-American legislators, many of us carry memories of what it was like not to have basic civil rights in large parts of this country. Today, it is incumbent on us to stand up for undocumented immigrants so they can receive their rights in New York State, including the right to mobility. Let’s pass the Green Light Bill and expand access to drivers licenses now!”

Assembly Member Ellen Jaffee said, “New York State has a long, rich history of welcoming immigrants who work hard to pursue the American Dream. Allowing undocumented immigrants to legally drive would remove the barriers to transportation that prevent them from getting to their jobs or to school, improve public safety, lower insurance costs, while generating revenue and boosting our state and local economies. It’s time to pass this legislation that will benefit all New Yorkers.”

Assembly Member Barbara Lifton said, "I am a co-sponsor of the bill, and I will vote for it if it comes to the floor. These are people who have been in our country for many years. They are working hard to pick the crops that we eat and doing the hard work in the kitchens of our food establishments, among other jobs that few others want, and they need to be able to drive safely with a license and insurance. We are all safer when the workers who live in our state can get around legally. This isn’t as big a problem in New York City, which has a subway and an extensive bus system, but it’s a very big problem for working people in Upstate New York to be without legal transportation. We have to stop playing political games with the hard-working immigrants in our state. It is shameful. "

Assembly Member William Magnarelli said, “What many people do not realize is that undocumented immigrants are already on the road, but they are driving without a license or insurance. Safe roads mean every driver is properly licensed, informed of traffic laws, has passed a driver’s test, and is operating a registered, inspected and insured vehicle. Today’s legislation will also allow police to verify motorist’s identity and review their traffic record. It is truly in the best interest of traffic safety for all New Yorkers.”

State Senator Rachel May said, "The Assembly advanced the Green Light Bill today because it is a commonsense step and the right thing to do. Let's get this to the Governor to make our roads safer and boost our rural economies.”

State Senator Velmanette Montgomery said, “My district is home to a vibrant immigrant community. Their contributions to our local economy and the state is substantial. As the days of session come to a close we must do what we can to keep families together and promote public safety, that is why today, I am urging my senate colleagues to pass the Green Light NY bill.”

State Senator Zellnor Myrie said, "No one should have to overcome fear just to get to work, pick up their kids from school, or otherwise take care of their families. With this bill, we stand for our immigrants, their dignity and their wellbeing."

State Senator Kevin Parker said, "Providing immigrant New Yorkers with access to driver’s licenses will not only make our roads safer for everyone, but also strengthens New York's economy and will improve community integration and financial inclusion. It is my hope we can get this legislation passed in both houses for the benefit of all New Yorkers."

Assembly Majority Leader Crystal People-Stokes said, "Passage of the Green Light NY bill would be a victory for undocumented immigrants, who have waited over a decade to have their access to driver's licenses restored. As a co-sponsor of this bill, I believe this move would make a difference in my community and the whole state—improving public safety, increasing economic revenue, lowering insurance rates for all residents, and keeping families together."

Assembly Member Nick Perry said, “Passing the Green Light bill will remove the unnecessary impediment far too many immigrants face in realizing their own American Dream. Our roads and communities would be safer for everyone, by ensuring all drivers are properly licensed, insured and regulated. Living in NY without the right to drive creates a roadblock for so many who are undocumented but whose lives are limited because they are impeded from pursuing life that is normal for everyone else. In New York, the right to drive is certainly so essential, it should be defended as a human right. A progressive state like NY, should act immediately to switch this red light to green, and legalize drivers license for tens of thousands of undocumented who otherwise live lawful and exemplary lives across our state.”

Assembly Member Phil Ramos said, “The Green Light bill is an absolute imperative for the millions of undocumented immigrants who call New York State home. This legislation allows these residents to drive to work, school, the doctor’s office and store safely by ensuring their car is registered, inspected and insured. It will also reduce the number of hit-and-run accidents, raise revenue through licensing fees and taxes and decrease insurance premiums for all drivers. I look forward to passing this landmark legislation into law.”

State Senator Gustavo Rivera said, “I applaud my colleagues in the Assembly for passing the Greenlight NY proposal and it is my hope that we can follow suit in the Senate. This historic vote brings us one step closer to granting all New Yorkers access to a driver's license, which will benefit our State's economy and improve the daily lives of our undocumented communities."

Assembly Member Daniel Rosenthal said, “I am proud to stand with Green Light NY in support of this bill. By granting all New Yorkers driving privileges, this legislation will ensure safer communities, serve as a catalyst for economic expansion, and will propel working families to success.”

Assembly Member Linda Rosenthal said, "Denying immigrants the right to possess a driver’s license denies them the ability to perform the most basic functions in life, and prevents them from supporting themselves and their families. As a cosponsor of the Green Light NY bill, I am pleased to see if progress in the New York State Assembly. At a time when our federal government is targeting undocumented families for persecution, it is vital that New York take decisive action to protect every single New Yorker, regardless of status, against racist and hate-fueled law enforcement."

State Senator Julia Salazar said, “A driver’s license can be transformational for someone’s quality of life and independence, especially if that person is otherwise undocumented. This is a commonsense reform that ensures that our roads are safe for everyone and that undocumented people are not completely dependent on their employer for transportation. Undocumented people contribute to our society in so many important ways, and we need to strongly push back against racism directed at them wherever it is found.”

State Senator James Sanders Jr. said, “Granting driver’s licenses to undocumented immigrants would improve public safety for both motorists and pedestrians across New York State. It would ensure that everyone who gets behind the wheel knows the rules of the road, as required by the DMV, and has the proper insurance, as mandated by state law. A driver’s license is also one of the most basic forms of identification. I am proud to support this common sense legislation and am sure that it will aid in preventing accidents on our streets and roadways.”

Assembly Member Rebecca Seawright said, “I co-sponsored A3675 to promote safety in all our communities by ensuring that undocumented immigrants may apply for a driver’s license and be subject to the rules of the road. Licensing all drivers regardless of immigration status protects us all. I commend the New York Immigration Coalition for their support on this important issue.”

Assembly Member Jo Anne Simon said, “I’m proud to cosponsor A.3675, which restores driving privileges for all residents of New York, including undocumented immigrants, and protects the personal data of applicants. By expanding driver education and licensing to more New Yorkers, regardless of immigration status, our streets will be safer and drivers will be held accountable. Our immigrant neighbors provide a positive economic impact on our state’s economy and should be allowed to attain a driver’s license without fear of detention or arrest. I applaud the Green Light Coalition, the New York Immigration coalition, and all of the advocates who work every day to protect the rights of immigrants in this state.”

Assembly Member Michaelle C. Solages stated, “We are one step closer to ensuring that there is a restoration of driving rights for all New Yorkers regardless of immigration status. This legislation will ensure safer roads, boost state revenues, as well as keep immigrant families together. Unlicensed, uninsured immigrant drivers cost millions in damage claims that other policy holders must cover. I commend my colleagues for supporting this bill and the sponsor for courageously bringing this issue to the forefront. The impetus is now on the New York State Senate to put politics aside and pass this bill this session.”

State Senator Toby Ann Stavisky said, “I have sponsored the Green Light driver’s license legislation since it was first proposed in 2009. After a decade of waiting for the bill to be discussed in the Republican Senate, the Democrats are in the majority in the New York State Senate and now is the time to pass it,” said Senator Toby Ann Stavisky. “Undocumented individuals will be given an opportunity to obtain both a driver’s license and car insurance, allowing them to pay into a system that will make both drivers and pedestrians safer. People often need vehicles to get to their jobs, school or appointments. Increasing the insurance pool will keep costs low for everyone. The economy will benefit, as will safety. This is a win-win piece of legislation”

Assembly Member Phil Steck said, "This bill gets undocumented immigrants out of the shadows and on a path to citizenship, if they qualify.  If they drive, they should be licensed and insured. Being hit by an unlicensed uninsured driver, as I have been, is very costly. The unlicensed are subject to prosecution."

Assembly Member Fred W. Thiele, Jr. stated, “The Driver’s License Access and Privacy Act would improve public safety, save drivers insurance premiums and bolster the local economy, while providing new revenues to state and local government. This legislation will simultaneously lift up not only undocumented New Yorkers, but the thousands of businesses and millions of other New Yorkers whom they work with and help every day. It is the job of government to help every person achieve full economic mobility and participate in their community while preserving public safety, and that is exactly what implementing this sound public policy would accomplish.”