OWEGO — On Tuesday, Tioga County Legislators voted to formally oppose proposed state legislation which would allow illegal immigrants to obtain a driver’s license.
“It seems like we’re under an assault from the lawmakers in Albany,” said Legislator Bill Standinger. “This is probably the most poorly conceived idea that I’ve seen recently and if it gets through, we’re going to have problems as a result. So I pray that somehow, they inject some reason and not pass this act.”
Legislators cited several reasons for their opposition, noted the recommendation from county District Attorney Kirk Martin, county Clerk Andrea Klett, and Sheriff Gary Howard.
The resolution points out that the legislation would increase opportunities for voter fraud, “as illegal immigrants applying for a driver’s license would be prompted by the NYS DMV’s license registration system to register to vote.”
Legislators also noted that holding a driver’s license is a privilege for those who have followed the law and have proven themselves capable of operating an automobile.
“New York State presently suspends or revokes driver’s licenses for various illegal acts, including non-payment of child support, delinquent taxes, and refusal to submit to a breathalyzer,” legislators said. “Yet, this Act would reward illegal entry into the United States with a driver’s license.”
Further, if passed, the legislation would create “unacceptable security risks.”
Legislators said there is no guarantee that the identity of undocumented individuals can be properly verified by the state if the federal government has not issued a green card or visa, and the act’s proposed privacy protections may frustrate federal immigration enforcement efforts.
“Local Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) offices do not have the expertise needed to determine the authenticity of foreign birth certificates, foreign passports, consular cards or to verify evidence of an undocumented individual’s residency in the state,” legislators continued.
Driver’s licenses can be used to obtain additional official identification documents intended only for United States citizens, legislators added.
Additionally, legislators explained that the proposal would eliminate the state’s requirement to verify the authenticity of an individual’s social security number — a prerequisite that has been in place since 2002.
With that alone, the social security number verification has led to the discovery of massive amounts of fraudulent activity, including identity theft, bank fraud, insurance fraud, and multiple licenses to avoid loss of driving privileges or active warrants, legislators said.
Copies of the resolution will be sent to Gov. Andrew Cuomo, Temporary President and Majority Leader of the Senate Andrea Stewart-Cousins, Speaker of the Assembly Carl E. Heastie, Senate Minority Leader John J. Flanagan, Assembly Minority Leader Brian M. Kolb, and local state legislators.