The state Legislature will consider a controversial bill next year that would allow illegal immigrants to apply for a driver’s license — and Gov. Andrew Cuomo will sign it if it passes, the governor’s office said.
Alphonso David, Cuomo’s legal counsel, disclosed the plan during a panel discussion last week at the New York Hispanic Legislators’ postelection conference.
Advocates reported that David, during a discussion about immigration issues, predicted the bill would be approved by the Legislature — which will be entirely under Democratic control in 2019 — and be signed by the governor.
“GREAT NEWS! Alphonso David, Counselor to @NYGovCuomo said at #SOMOSPRConf-erence2018’s immigration panel today that Drivers’ Licenses for all, regardless of immigration status, will pass in the upcoming 2019 legislative session! ¡Sí se puede!” advocacy group Make the Road NY tweeted on Nov. 9.
Cuomo spokesman Richard Azzopardi said David made no guarantee about what would happen in the Legislature, as advocates claimed. He only confirmed that David indicated the license proposal will likely be discussed next year after saying it couldn’t be passed by executive order. If it comes up for a vote and, if it passes, Cuomo would sign it.
“The governor supports the legislation,” Azzopardi said.
A dozen states and Washington, DC, already allow illegal immigrants to apply for driver’s licenses.
But a spokesman for Andrea Stewart-Cousins, the presumptive state Senate Democratic Party leader, was noncommittal.
“There are many important issues we will be reviewing with our full conference as we approach the upcoming session,” said spokesman Mike Murphy.
Even with a driver’s license, illegal immigrants wouldn’t have the right to vote. Various attempts in the City Council to allow noncitizens to vote in local elections have fizzled, most recently in 2015.
The Driver’s License Access and Privacy Act is sponsored by Assemblyman Marcos Crespo and Sen. Luis Supulveda, both Bronx Democrats.
Republicans who previously blocked the measure said they’re eager to see whether the new Democrats elected to the Senate in suburban Long Island — a stronghold of the violent MS-13 gang — support it. If they do, Republicans could use that against them in the 2020 elections.
“This is the ‘New, New York,’ ” said Sen. Fred Akshar (R-Binghamton), who opposes the bill. “You’d be hard-pressed to find support for this bill outside the five boroughs of New York City. People think we should be taking care of legal citizens.
“I’m absolutely going to be a ‘no’ vote on this. It’s absolutely the wrong thing to do.”
Former Gov. Eliot Spitzer in 2007 pushed for licenses for illegal residents but backtracked after a firestorm of opposition amid terrorism concerns.
Among the opponents at the time: Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul, then the Erie County clerk. She now supports the bill.
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