Undocumented Immigrants Should Be Licensed to Drive

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To the Editor,

No matter what your position on immigration or undocumented immigrants, I urge you to consider the reality that all New Yorkers would be safer if undocumented immigrants were licensed to drive.

There are nearly one million undocumented immigrants who reside in New York State (NYS).  The Fiscal Policy Institute estimates that 265,000 of the 752,000 unauthorized immigrants over 16 years old in NYS would apply for driver’s licenses if available. Immigrants are willing to take a state-sanctioned driving course, driving test, road test and get insurance but our law won’t allow them. However, while waiting for valid licenses, people must drive to work, children’s schools, medical appointments, places of worship and the store to buy food, which are all daily necessities.

All NYS drivers must drive as safely as possible. People from other countries with different rules of the road must know NYS laws and feel confident behind the wheel.

The DMV offers three types of driver’s licenses. Under the proposed Driver’s License and Privacy Act, any NYS resident, regardless of immigration status, can apply for a Standard License.

The holder of a Standard License CAN, after passing the written and road tests, register a car, purchase insurance and drive.  A Standard License holder CANNOT use the license to vote, cross national borders, enter federal buildings requiring ID or board an airplane.

I urge you to contact Majority Leader Stewart Cousins and Speaker Heastie, as well as Governor Cuomo, to let them know you support the Driver’s License and Privacy Act.

 Rosemary Dowling

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