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NY DMV To Hire More Workers, Increase Hours Amid Long Lines After Green Light Law Takes Effect

Thousands of undocumented workers in New York waited in hours-long lines at area DMVs now that the Green Light Law has taken effect and they can apply for driver's licenses
Thousands of undocumented workers in New York waited in hours-long lines at area DMVs now that the Green Light Law has taken effect and they can apply for driver's licenses Photo Credit: Jon Craig

To accommodate growing lines and exorbitant wait times at New York DMV locations created by the new Green Light Law, hundreds of new workers are being employed, and hours are being extended throughout the state.

The Green Light Law, which was signed by New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo last year, went into effect in December, allowing more than 80,000 people statewide to receive a legal New York State license.

New York is the 13th state to provide licenses to illegal immigrants. Under the Driver's License Access and Privacy Act, driver license applicants who have never been issued a Social Security Number are eligible to apply.

With the new law, there have been reports of lines snaking out of the doors of some DMV locations, and there have been complaints of wait times that lasted hours.

In response, the DMV announced it is hiring 320 new employees, many of whom were trained in preparation for this program, and more prospective employees are being recruited, DMV officials said. All New York City and Long Island offices are also opening an hour early each day at 7:30 a.m.

The DMV also opened its doors for Saturday appointments in:

  • Midtown in Manhattan;
  • Jamaica in Queens;
  • Atlantic Avenue in Brooklyn;
  • Garden City in Nassau County;
  • Medford in Suffolk County;
  • West Haverstraw in Rockland County, and;
  • Yonkers in Westchester.

Applicants looking to obtain a license will still have to get a permit first and pass a road test before a license is issued. Officials are reportedly working with DMVs to ensure that no arrests are made by immigration agents.

To obtain a license, applicants will have to show a combination of documents that prove New York State residency, applicants’ names and their date of birth.

The Green Light Law has come under fire by some Republicans and county clerks in charge of their DMV offices, claiming that the new measure is dangerous and creates a difficult situation. Some have gone so far as to attempt to sue to block the law, unsuccessfully.

In Dutchess County, things were so hectic after the law went into effect that officials announced that beginning on Tuesday, Dec. 17, they would only process driver’s license and permit applications for county residents.

In a statement, Lisa Koumajian, the Assistant Commissioner of Communications said that “the implementation date of the Green Light Law is mandated by statute, not the DMV.” She noted that the DMV has provided hands-on training and offered training sessions to assist with the transition.

“We invite any county clerk who feels inadequately prepared to implement the law to contact us so we can provide further instruction or clarification. The law applies to only one license transaction and the DMV is not creating a new license or overhauling the current process.

“The DMV has implemented the Green Light Law in a way that is consistent with our tried-and-true method of validating someone’s name using multiple proofs. Per the law, we will be accepting additional proof documents from customers and we are providing easy-to-use tools, such as document authentication devices and resource guides, to both state and county DMV staff to assist them.”

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