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State Urged to Pass Drivers License Access and Privacy Act

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State Urged to Pass Drivers License Access and Privacy Act

Tuesday, March 5, 2019

The Legislature, by a vote of 10-3 (Legislators Mike Sigler, Dave McKenna, and Glenn Morey voted no; Legislator Deborah Dawson was excused) urged New York State to pass the Drivers License Access and Privacy Act, to allow the issuance of driver’s licenses to New York State residents regardless of immigration status.  The Act, the measure notes, will amend the requirements to apply for a Standard Driver’s License in New York so that the inability to obtain a social security number is not a barrier to driving in New York.  The resolution, in part, states that the Act will improve public safety by ensuring drivers are properly licensed, educated on the traffic laws, and will help ensure that people are driving a vehicle that is properly insured, licensed, and inspected; and that it will improve trust between law enforcement and immigrant communities.

Legislator Sigler maintained that the approach is misdirected.  “I don’t understand this at all,” he said, calling it “a lot of wasted energy (that will) hurt the people you really want to help…making it easier to live in the shadows.”  He said efforts should be focused on people who enter the U.S. legally at a port of entry, not to initiatives such as this that “turn a blind eye” to the immigration problem. 

Asked to comment, Sheriff Derek Osborne said he supports this measure, as do other sheriffs within New York State:  “I’m the conservator of the people, and that’s a lot of weight…When I think about conserving the peace, I think about the people who have to call law enforcement” (and fear doing that).  He said he wants people to have to have the identification needed “so we can move on and treat them like anyone else we would in Tompkins County.”

The resolution states that the Legislature expresses the collective desire for safety and security for all residents and the commitment to pursuing the common good by ensuring shared resources such as roads and highways be accessed and utilized responsibly and safely; and that it recognizes immigration law to be a federal concern, and local enforcement a drain on limited local resources.