Central New York clerks battle over “Green Light Law”

Local News

WAMPSVILLE, N.Y. (WSYR-TV) – A new law allowing undocumented immigrants to apply for a New York driver’s license is facing tough criticism from County Clerks.

With less than a month before it’s set to take effect on December 14, Clerks like Michael Keville in Madison County say they’re flying blind.

“We don’t have any guidance from the state,” said Keville.

When the law was passed in June, New York became one of 14 states to adopt the practice. Supporters have touted improved safety because illegal immigrants who drive aren’t able to get insurance without a license.

While the law is a benefit in the event of an accident, Central New York Clerks are concerned about how it’s being implemented.

Keville and his colleagues in Oswego, Cortland, Cayuga, and Seneca counties all say because of the lack of communication from the state, they’re unprepared.

“It’s really a recipe for disaster,” said Keville.

Most county-run DMV offices aren’t equipped to handle foreign documents or Non-English speakers, said Keville and the state hasn’t indicated if they’re providing any support. Another issue Keville expects under the new law involving illegal immigrants is the inability to meet the criteria required to get a license.

In a recent case at the Madison County DMV, Keville explained even an immigrant legally in the U.S. wasn’t able to satisfy a single requirement, despite possessing a DHS document allowing him to be in the country.

“And explaining to that gentleman that he wasn’t able to get an ID because he didn’t have those six points. It was a 30-minute conversation trying to explain that to him,” said Keville.

While the impacts of the “Green Light Law” will vary once in effect, Keville doesn’t expect any major backups in Madison County but says that could change.

Many of the concerns expressed by the County Clerks in Central New York are fueling a lawsuit in Rensselaer County. That case is still being litigated and could lead to an injunction, therefore stopping the law from going into effect on December 14.

If an injunction is issued the Clerks are hopeful the state will use the extra time to address their concerns.

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