July 10, 2019

Speaker Heastie Statement on the Green Light Law

Legal attempts by the Erie County Clerk and others to block the Green Light Law, which will allow immigrants to obtain a New York driver's license, are shortsighted and just plain wrong. The landmark legislation passed by the legislature this year and signed into law by Governor Cuomo promotes public safety, protects our state's economy and ensures every New Yorker can integrate into their community and care for their family.

The New York law includes important privacy protections that all drivers in New York should enjoy and it cannot be used as tool for the federal government to target immigrant families. Specifically, unless there is a court order or warrant, it prohibits the New York State Department of Motor Vehicles from sharing data, including license photos, with any local, state or federal agency that primarily enforces immigration law and it prohibits the data from being used for any civil immigration purpose.

The Green Light Law restores the right to obtain a license all New Yorkers enjoyed prior to executive action by former Governor George Pataki in 2001. Across the country, 12 states as well as Puerto Rico and the District of Columbia have similar laws on the books, and I am confident New York's law will withstand any legal challenge.