It’s a historic day in New York, where all New Yorkers regardless of immigration status will now be able to apply for a driver’s license after a last-ditch Republican effort to block new law failed in court on Friday. “In a 17-page decision, U.S. District Judge Gary Sharpe ruled Rensselaer County Clerk Frank Merola didn't have legal capacity to sue the state over the law,” Democrat & Chronicle reports.
The Green Light Law restores driver’s licenses for undocumented immigrants and makes roads safer for all by ensuring more people are driving legally. For New Yorkers like Sylvia and Jorge Garcia, this victory also means peace of mind. “For immigrant parents like us, especially in the suburbs where we live, it’s an enormous relief,” they wrote. “It will mean finally being able to drive our kids to school and the doctor and driving ourselves to work, without fear of being stopped by the police and having our family torn apart by Immigration and Customs Enforcement.”
”Our situation is not unique,” they say. “More than 700,000 undocumented people across New York are now eligible to apply for a license. That’s not just good for us. It’s good for all New Yorkers, who will be driving on safer roads alongside more insured drivers and whose local and state governments will generate revenue through the licensing fees … having driver’s licenses is going to change our lives. We’ll be able to safely get our kids to school, handle emergencies and get ourselves to work without the worries that have plagued us for years.”
It’s common sense legislation, yet Republicans in the state have launched court action to block it. “Merola's lawsuit was the last chance for opponents of the law to block it before Department of Motor Vehicles offices across the state open Monday, the first day they will accept applications after the law takes effect Saturday,” Democrat & Chronicle continued. Pictures and videos shared by immigrant rights advocacy group Make The Road New York showed hundreds of people eagerly waiting outside DMV offices in The Bronx, Queens, and Staten Island for their chance to be able to drive without fear.
“Happy Monday! Today is a historic day for NY and for immigrant communities,” tweeted Cristina Jiménez, an immigrant rights leader with immigrant rights advocacy group United We Dream. “After an 18 year fight all New Yorkers, regardless of immigration status will be able to drive without fear. In this video my dad, Fausto, is on line in Queens' DMV to apply for his driver’s license!”
Green Light NY makes the state 13th in the nation, along with Washington, D.C., and Puerto Rico, to allow undocumented residents to drive legally. New Jersey could soon become the 14th, after legislation recently passed a key committee vote. Should it make it to the Democratic governor’s desk, he has said he will sign it. "It's a no-brainer,'' Gov. Phil Murphy said. "I'm frustrated that it's not on my desk. I encourage you to call your assemblyperson, your senator, and ask him why it is stuck and not on the governor's desk, because I will sign it."