Three ways in which New York State's "Green Light Law" weakens homeland security

On June 17, New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo signed the Driver’s License Access and Privacy Act (Green Light NY), making New York one of 14 states allowing illegal aliens to obtain driver's licenses. The Green Light Law will enable applicants for non-commercial driver’s licenses or learner’s permits to submit non-standard proofs of identity and age, and receive a non-federal license. Applicants (on condition that they entered the country illegally) will be permitted to evade Social Security Number verification by signing an affidavit stating that they were never issued one.

The Governor had raised the possibility of vetoing the bill only hours before signing it. Not that hiding people who snuck into the country from immigration authorities bothers Cuomo, not because new federal requirements for identification cards are undermined and not because the new driver's licenses might enable voter fraud. Governor Andrew Cuomo was concerned that data collected on driver's license applicants who are in the country illegally might find its way into the hands of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

The letter from New York's Republican representatives in Congress to the Department of Justice

In most states the Department of Motor Vehicles is administered by state agents, but in upstate New York those duties frequently fall on county clerks, many of whom are elected. At least four county clerks have said they will not comply with the Green Light Law. The county clerks in Erie County and Rensselaer County have each filed lawsuits against the legislation in federal court, while the country clerk in Niagara County has filed a suit specifically against New York State, citing the potential for rampant voter fraud.

On September 19, U.S. Congressman Lee Zeldin (R, NY-1) led the entire New York Republican Congressional delegation in sending a letter to U.S. Attorney General William Barr, urging him to review the constitutionality of New York State’s Green Light Law and support county clerk litigation in federal court, to help prevent implementation of this statute. The letter described how the new legislation could weaken homeland security in the following three ways:

  1. Failure to Disclose Applicant Records to Federal Immigration Authorities Violates 8 U.S.C. § 1324 and 18 U.S.C. § 1071
  2. “Visually Identical” Designs of Driver Licenses Conflict with Federal Requirements of the REAL ID Act
  3. New York State Voter Registration Laws Permit Voter Fraud for Driver’s License Applicants

NY State will protect illegal aliens like a hockey goalie guards the net

8 U.S. Code § 1324 Bringing in and harboring certain aliens specifies felony-level penalties for anyone who conceals, harbors, or shields from detection, or attempts to conceal, harbor, or shield from detection a person who entered the United States illegally. The Green Light Law restricts the Department of Motor Vehicles from providing records or information to federal immigration authorities, thereby placing county clerks in the position of having to violate federal law.

Additionally, any commissioner who carries out this law may be violating 18 U.S. Code § 1071 Concealing person from arrest, which prohibits harboring or concealing any person for whose arrest a warrant or process has been issued … so as to prevent his discovery and arrest. The Green Light Law requires that a person be notified when information about them stored in a DMV database is requested by a government agency, and requires the DMV to identify the agency making the request.

“Visually identical” licenses would undermine the federal REAL ID Act

The REAL ID Act was passed by Congress in 2005, enacting the 9/11 Commission’s recommendation that the Federal Government set standards for sources of identification such as driver's licenses. The Act prohibits Federal agencies from accepting for certain purposes driver’s licenses and identification cards not meeting a set of minimum standards. Those purposes include boarding federally regulated commercial aircraft.

The REAL ID Act requires states that give driver's licenses to people illegally in the United States to issue distinctive alternative licenses for those people. However, the Green Light Law demands that licenses given to illegals be “visually identical” to those meeting federal standards. New York State's driver’s licenses thereby clash with federal standards, and there is no requirement for notice to be given that the license is not for federal purposes.

The following graphic, which is from the New York Department of Motor Vehicles website, highlights the slight differences between the types of driver's licenses issued by the DMV. “EDL” (Enhanced) licenses can be used to enter the U.S. by land or sea, in addition to meeting REAL ID requirements. “REAL ID” licenses are Federal REAL ID compliant, so bearers can board domestic flights. “Standard” licenses can only be used to board a domestic flight until October 1, 2020, when NY State will become REAL ID compliant. These are the licenses that will be issued to illegal aliens.

NY State driver licenses

New York State could potentially register thousands of illegal aliens to vote

New York’s Motor Voter law requires the DMV to provide voter registration forms upon application for a driver's license. The Green Light Law does not authorize commissioners to promulgate rules for the verification of eligibility to vote, for driver's license applicants who check the voter registration box. Under the current system, every driver’s license applicant is permitted to check the box to register to vote. By implementing this new law, New York State could potentially register thousands of illegal aliens to vote, by registering at the DMV.


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