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Group wants undocumented immigrants in New York to be able to apply for driver's licenses

Says law would create $57M for state economy
Posted: 3:33 PM, Aug 21, 2018
Updated: 2018-08-22 11:29:24Z

A group is holding press conferences across the state of New York, urging Gov. Andrew Cuomo to allow immigrant food and farm workers to apply for a driver's license — even if the worker is undocumented.

"Green Light NY: Driving Together" argues that New York's agriculture and food industry needs migrant workers because Americans are not interested in taking the jobs, and driver's licenses would reduce costs for farmers.

"Farmers are worried about losing their workers. And it is already happening," Jennifer Connor, an organizer for "Justice for Migrant Families," said.

Green Light NY wants New York to join 12 other states that issue driver's licenses without regard to immigration status. Supporters of the idea it will help farmers, who are currently responsible for cost and logistics of transporting their migrant workers to the farm, grocery store or doctor's offices.

Proponents of the plan say allowing undocumented immigrants to apply for driver's licenses will generate $57 million for the state's economy

"Would it be better to have them licensed, documented, required to purchase insurance and all those things? Absolutely," Dennis Brawdy of the Amos Zittel & Sons Farm in Eden, New York, said.

While local farmers support the idea, it is controversial.

Erie County Clerk Michael Kearns is strongly against the idea.

"We have to remember that we are a border state with Canada, and terrorism is a very important issue," Kearns said.

According to Kearns, federal requirements for identification have greatly increased and allowing undocumented farm workers to get a driver's license would create a dangerous loophole.

"I believe federal law supersedes state law and I will follow the federal law," added Kearns, who said he would challenge any change in New York law regarding the issuance of licenses to workers without proper documentation.