The passage of the Green Light Bill in the state senate followed by its rapid signing into law by the governor was a signal victory for New York immigrants. As recently as the morning of the vote, newspapers were voicing doubts about the viability of the legisaltion.
In debates and speeches that dragged on for five hours, the opponents of the bill raised every racist trope in the book, even calling undocumented immigrants “criminals.” One conservative senator even asked why undocumented immigrants “chose to be undocumented. The Long Island Six stood with the opponents and voted unanimously against the bill, yet still, at the end of the roll call vote, the bill passed.
While many Long Islanders were disappointed in the votes of the Long Island Six, the work of activists on the Island was crucial to the vote. Last Thursday, under intense pressure from voters in her district, Sen. Anna Kaplan told the Democratic conference in the senate that she was prepared to vote for the bill. This broke the logjam that had prevented the bill from coming to the floor.
In coming days I will post on how the bill will be implemented.
Congrats and thanks to everyone who helped pass this law.