New York Is Approving Driver’s Licenses for Undocumented Immigrants

At the core of the immigration reform issue, conservatives do not want a path to citizenship

Photo: Unsplash/@allisonheine

Photo: Unsplash/@allisonheine

At the core of the immigration reform issue, conservatives do not want a path to citizenship. What is a priority for them is to get undocumented people out of this country, even though they provide billions in a year and taxes, and give billions more than they take. There is good news, however, coming out of New York. The progressive state is signaling that they do want a path to citizenship, and it begins by helping undocumented people come out of hiding. Last night, New York state lawmakers passed a bill to restore access to driver’s licenses to everyone, regardless of citizenship. The passing of the bill was passed to roaring applause from immigrant advocates.

It’s been an 18-year struggle,” Javier Valdés, the co-executive director of Make the Road New York — an immigrant advocacy group — told The New York Times. “The resilience of the immigrant community has shown through once again.”

New York Senator Gustavo Rivera ‏ tweeted that immigrant New Yorkers “regardless of their legal status in this country, will now be able to travel to work, bring their children to school, or take a loved one to the hospital without fear of a minor traffic violation separating them from their homes, families, and lives.”

That’s really what it comes down to. Having a driver’s licenses isn’t a get out of jail free card, not by a long shot. It does, however, give these people a little state of peace and stability and at least some reassurance that they can get to work or take their kids to school without an issue. The majority of these people mean no harm; all they care about is working and providing for their families. With any community, of course, there are always bad seeds (in any racial group), and they will sprout regardless of this bill. So why not help the majority of undocumented people have some peace? Having a driver’s licenses won’t give them access to much of the benefits that U.S. citizens have, but it will allow them to do the kind of labor that you would never do.

Once Governor Cuomo signs the bill, which is expected to be soon, New York will be the 13th state to give undocumented people access to a driver’s licenses. Now, if other states could be this respectful to people in this country rather than to abolish the rights of people, we would be a lot better off.

“This is a huge victory. Today’s bill signing will dramatically improve the lives of hundreds of thousands of New Yorkers, and we thank Governor Cuomo for fulfilling his commitment to all New Yorkers by signing this bill expeditiously,” the bipartisan political organization, said in a press statement. “We are extremely grateful to the bill’s sponsor, Senator Luis Sepulveda, Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins, Assembly sponsor Marcos Crespo, the State Senate and Assembly, and Green Light NY bill advocates, for fighting tirelessly on behalf of immigrant families across the state. Thanks to arduous advocacy, an estimated 265,000 undocumented New Yorkers will now be able to take driver’s education courses, pass a road test, and earn a license. This is life-changing, and we are proud to stand on the right side of history because every New Yorker should have the opportunity to contribute to their economies and communities without fearing that they will be separated from their family because of a routine traffic stop.”

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