What is the Green Light Law?

February 11, 2020

Undocumented immigrants across New York state are now on their way to receiving their drivers license after being given the green light by the state to do so. Immigrants may apply for their driver’s license without worrying about agencies that enforce immigration law accessing their DMV information and coming after them.

The Green Light Law allows individuals who do not have a legal immigration status to apply for a standard, non-federal driver’s license or permit. Applicants must be over the age of 16. They are still required to obtain a permit and pass a driving test before acquiring their driver’s license. Governor Andrew Cuomo approved the Green Light Law in June, allowing immigrants to use foreign-issued documents as proof of age and identity so that they can apply for their driver’s license.

The Green Light Law also prohibits state DMV officials from providing any of its data to entities that enforce immigration law, unless a judge orders them to. This resulted in the state cutting off database access to certain federal agencies including, U.S. Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). This provision was added a week before the law passed after concerns that CBP and ICE could easily access information about immigrants, which would increase the likelihood of them being deported.

Under the law, no DMV data of any kind can be disclosed with an agency that exclusively enforces immigration law, unless the DMV is served with a valid, judge-signed court order, a judicial warrant, or a subpoena, according to a DMV spokeswoman. In 2001, New York previously allowed licenses to be given to illegal immigrants, but the practice was halted. There are at least a dozen other states across the country with similar laws allowing immigrants to apply for their driver’s license.

Opposition to the Green Light Law

The passing of the law resulted in opposition from Upstate Republicans. There were also threats from county clerks in charge of certain DMV offices, claiming that passing the Green Light Law is dangerous. The DMV’s databases serve as a law-enforcement tool, allowing officers to access a vehicle registration holder’s information and history. This data can then be used to determine whether an individual has a criminal history, has any warrants out for their arrest, or is a sex-offender. Without access to this database, certain federal officers believe that officers and the public are threatened.

Vineland Immigration Lawyers at the MC Law Group, LLC Help Immigrants Obtain Driver’s Licenses

The immigration process can be a long, confusing, and often frustrating time, but a Vineland immigration lawyer at the MC Law Group, LLC can help. We will fight for your rights and obtain the justice you deserve. For a free consultation, contact us online or call us at 215-496-0690. Located in Philadelphia, we serve clients throughout the tri-state area, including PennsylvaniaNew Jersey, and nationwide.