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NY Green Light Law Allowing Driver's Licenses To Undocumented Immigrants Takes Effect

The New York Green Light Law will allow undocumented immigrants to obtain driver's licenses.
The New York Green Light Law will allow undocumented immigrants to obtain driver's licenses. Photo Credit: TSA

Thousands of undocumented immigrants living in New York will soon be able to obtain a valid driver’s license now that a new law has taken effect.

The Green Light Law, which was signed by New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo earlier this year, went into effect as of Monday, Dec. 16, allowing upwards of 80,000 people statewide to receive legal New York State driver’s licenses.

"The Green Light law is legal and enforceable," New York Attorney General Letitia James said. "We expect all public officials to comply with the law. As the state's chief law enforcement officer, I’ll continue to vigorously defend it."

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.

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 Department of Motor Vehicles noted that “if you do not have proof that you have a Social Security Number, been issued a Social Security Ineligibility Letter by the Social Security Administration or have proof of your lawful status in the US, your standard driver license will not comply with the federal REAL ID Act. In accordance with the law, all licenses that do not meet REAL ID standards are marked ‘NOT FOR FEDERAL PURPOSES.’”

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 on Dec. 16 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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