I write in support of driver’s licenses for undocumented persons in New York state. I do so because it is the sensible thing to do.
Expanding licenses would be an economic boom to the state. Expanding access will generate millions of dollars annually for New York and save motorists money. A 2017 analysis by the Fiscal Policy Institute determined that New York state and county governments would receive an estimated $57 million in combined annual revenue. See the report by visiting fiscalpolicy.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/02/NYS-Drivers-Licenses-2019.pdf.
Expanding licenses would make New Yorkers roads safer. Proper licensing is a practical way to improve public safety and strengthen trust between law enforcement and migrant communities. Legal licenses ensure that all drivers are properly licensed, are informed of traffic laws and operate a registered, insured and inspected vehicle. In 2003, New Mexico changed its policy, their rate of uninsured drivers fell from 33 percent to just 9 percent.
A standard license is clearly labeled: “Not for Federal Purposes.” A driver’s license cannot be used for voting purposes. U.S. Cctizens are required to register to vote in New York state. A standard license cannot be legally used as evidence of a holder’s immigration or citizenship status.
Expanding driver’s licenses would integrate migrant and immigrant New Yorkers in their communities.. Immigrant and migrant people live in New York, and yes, in Cayuga County. Driver’s licenses allow those in our community greater access to the community and make their own decisions about where to shop and seek community resources. Standard driver’s license allows individuals to drive and carry a valid ID for nonfederal purposes. A valid license allows those living in our communities to more fully participate in community life rather than live in isolation.
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In rural New York public transportation is not an option. Driving is a necessity, not a privilege. Undocumented immigrants contribute to all facets of New York life, including financially. They pay over $1.1 billion in state and local taxes annually and are responsible for $40 billion in New York’s economic output, according to the Fiscal Policy Institute.
The 2005 REAL ID Act allows for states to develop a multi-tier driver’s license system and be in compliance. It has been done in Vermont, Connecticut and Washington, D.C. Sheriffs and community leaders throughout New York think we can do it, too.