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July 22, 2019

Bill to let undocumented residents get driver’s licenses to be introduced in City Council: exclusive

February 12, 2019
A bill that would call on the state to allow undocumented residents to obtain driver’s licenses is set to come before the City Council. The legislation introduced by Councilman Ydanis Rodriguez (above) makes the case that undocumented immigrants with IDs would make safer roads. (Luiz C. Ribeiro for New York Daily News)

A bill that would call on the state to allow undocumented residents to obtain driver’s licenses is set to come before the City Council this week.

The legislation, which City Councilman Ydanis Rodriguez plans to introduce Wednesday, makes the case that undocumented immigrants should be able to get the IDs because it would make for safer roads.


“I believe that the State of New York has a great opportunity, not only to challenge President Trump, but also lead by example, and that’s what I’ve been advocating for for years,” Rodriguez said. “By allowing them to have their driver’s license, it will make our state safer and it will give relief today and it will recognize their contribution to our economy.”

If passed, the nonbinding resolution would make a Council position on the issue official before the state Assembly and Senate, both of which are now controlled by Democrats — who are typically more sympathetic to the idea than Republicans are.

Rodriguez, a Washington Heights Democrat, cited statistics in the resolution that unlicensed drivers are more likely to be involved in fatal crashes and contended that a new state law is “in the best interest of all New Yorkers because immigrants wanting to drive legally will have to pass written and practical driver’s exams, register their vehicles and obtain automobile insurance.”

Similar policy proposals have stalled before. In 2007, then-Gov. Eliot Spitzer dropped plans to offer the IDs after unrelenting criticism.

Councilman Joseph Borelli (R-S.I.) said the bill is nothing more than political posturing.

“This is the latest in another attempt to blur the line between legal and illegal and the rule of law versus open borders,” he said. “I’m sure Albany is not going to be shocked that (in) the liberal City Council, many City Council members are in support of this, and I don’t think it’s going to tip the scale either way.”

The Council resolution is expected to go before the body’s Immigration Committee. If passed, it would be put up for a full Council vote Wednesday.

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