Hundreds of Advocates Rallied on Long Island to Demand State Senate take up Green Light New York bill

Immigrant rights groups, top unions, and other allies rallied in front of a DMV office in Suffolk County calling on the state to restore the right of all immigrants to obtain driver’s licenses

Hauppauge, NY — Today, hundreds of advocates joined together in front of the Department of Motor Vehicles office, in Hauppauge, to call on the State Senate Democrats to pass legislation restoring the right of undocumented immigrants to obtain driver’s licenses.

The state Assembly is set to pass the bill known as Green Light NY next week, but the Senate still hasn’t said whether it will take up the measure. Long Island is considered the battleground that will decide the fate of the issue.

The New York Immigration Coalition, 1199 SEIU United Healthcare Workers East, 32BJ, Make the Road NY, National Day Labor Organizing Network, New York Civil Liberties Union, Sepa Mujer,  and others groups attended the rally in Suffolk County calling on the Senate-- Long Island representatives in particular--to follow the Assembly’s lead and pass the bill. They issued the following statements:

Assemblyman Phil Ramos (D-Brentwood) 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.”

Steve Choi, Executive Director, New York Immigration Coalition said:

“Time is running out for the state Senate to do the right thing for all Long Islanders. Our Long Island Senators must step up. Our communities elected a Democratic Senate to move common-sense legislation like the Green Light NY bill, which will help protect our immigrants, make our roads safer for everyone and pump millions of dollars into Nassau and Suffolk County coffers. The Assembly will pass the bill next week with the support of many Long Island Assemblymembers, and we expect the Senate to do the same. Despite Gov. Cuomo’s hand-picked state party chair, Jay Jacobs, urging the island's six Senators to put political considerations over people, we expect our state Senators on Long Island—several of whom promised during their campaigns to support this very issue—to stand up against fear-mongering politics, exercise common sense, and vote for the Green Light bill."

Rosa Cecilia Martinez, member, Hemptstead TPS Committee, said, “As immigrants who have Temporary Protected Status (TPS), we are already beginning to lose our access to drivers licenses in New York State because of Trump’s termination of TPS. Our community is at risk every single day, and we need Long Island’s Democratic State Senators to find the courage to stand up and fight for what is right.”

Sister Mary Beth Moore, Centro Corazon de Maria, Hampton Bays, said, "Here on the East End, many businesses run on immigrant labor. A small group of these are undocumented. How does a restaurant worker get home at midnight?  She needs a license to get home safely. The best thing for all New Yorkers is to grant licenses to all who qualify."

Dulce Rojas Senior Organizer for SEPA Mujer said, “As the legislative session comes to an end we must pass Green light NY this month and not let another 20 years go by!  SEPA Mujer is in this fight for all the women we represent, for all the families in our community who have been driving in fear for the past 20 years! As an immigrant  myself I know what it is like to drive for necessity and being prone to scams, abuse and being so limited. A driver’s license is not a luxury it is a need on Long Island. We stand together as a community asking for our Long Island Senators to do the right thing and vote the humane way for this common sense piece of legislation, for all families including theirs!”

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