Why the NY State Senate Needs to Pass Legislation Allowing Immigrants to Apply for Drivers’ Licenses


New York needs to make drivers’ licenses available to immigrants. This information from the Green Light New York Campaign explains why the New York Immigration Coalition is helping to lead this effort:

New York State should restore equal access to driver’s licenses by passing legislation to expand access to the “Standard License.” This legislation, A03675/S01747, would establish that the newly created “Standard License” be accessible to all state residents, regardless of immigration status.

Expanding access to drivers licences would improve public safety and our state’s economy.

An estimated $57 Million dollars a year in combined anual revenue would enter into our State’s economy.  Granting licenses would promote greater integration in community programs, and greater trust with authorities. It would expand the economy, improve public safety, prevent deportations, and advance justice in terms of freedom of movement.

There are social consequences to denying licenses. Without a driver’s license, basic travel becomes unfeasible, and thus hinders community and cultural integration. Necessity leads many immigrants to drive without licenses, putting them at odds with law enforcement, and increasing the risk that a routine traffic stop will result in arrest, detention, or even deportation. Lack of transportation also creates opportunities for unscrupulous individuals to exploit undocumented immigrants.

12 States and 2 territories with large immigrant populations like NY have decided that it is in their best interest to give access to undocumented immigrants. Washington DC, Vermont, and Connecticut (outlined in black) are also REAL ID compliant.  New York in fact had access to drivers licences for undocumented immigrants until 2002.