Fabiola Ortiz understands the feeling of being pulled over without a driver’s license.
“When you’re driving. When a cop stops you. You see the siren,” Ortiz said. “For [undocumented immigrants] it’s the same, but their whole lives are at stake.”
Ortiz is graduate student from Mexico. She’s a green card holder and can drive legally, but a lot of the people she knows through the Workers Center of Central New York cannot.
That’s where Syracuse Mayor Stephanie Miner signed a letter supporting licenses for all drivers regardless of immigration status.
“If we want to make sure that people are safe,” Miner said. “And [that] they’re not being taken advantage of, then we have to take them out of the shadows. And one way to do that is to give them documentation that shows who they are.”
12 states have legalized driving for undocumented immigrants, but opponents say doing so is rewarding those who are here illegally with a form of government identification.
Potentially, up to a million New Yorkers could benefit from a law allowing them to get a license legally.
“This is a message to say that immigrants are welcome here,” Ortiz said. “That we recognize them and see them. That we welcome the work they do and the contributions they make to society.”