Poughkeepsie Common Council Endorses Greenlight Legislation

The Green Light coalition in Albany on May 14. Courtesy of Bryan MacCormack, Left In Focus

POUGHKEEPSIE — According to a press release issued by Nobody Leaves Mid-Hudson, on Monday, the Poughkeepsie Common Council unanimously passed a resolution in support of bill A10273/S08680 before the New York State legislature, which expands access to driver’s licenses to all New York State residents, regardless of immigration status.

New York law currently requires residents to have a social security number in order to obtain a driver’s license. Currently, 12 states — California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Maryland, Nevada, New Mexico, Utah, Vermont and Washington — and the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico have enacted laws to allow undocumented immigrants to obtain a driver’s license.

The legislative effort to expand driver’s licenses to all New Yorkers is being led by the statewide Green Light NY: Driving Together coalition, of which local organization Nobody Leaves Mid-Hudson is a key leader. On May 14, Nobody Leaves Mid-Hudson bused over 110 residents from Poughkeepsie, Kingston, Middletown, Newburgh, and Monroe to the New York State Capitol Building for a statewide mobilization for the campaign.

The Green Light coalition in Albany on May 14. Courtesy of Bryan MacCormack, Left In Focus

In response to Green Light’s organizing, the city of Hudson and villages of Ossining, Port Chester, Irvington, and Mamaroneck all previously passed resolutions in support of the legislation, while Mayor Minor of Syracuse has also publicly supported the campaign. Green Light has also made the legislation a core issue in the Democratic primary of the New York Governor’s race, with progressive challenger Cynthia Nixon making driver’s license expansion to undocumented New Yorkers a campaign plank and Governor Andrew Cuomo not having backed the legislation.

“Without access to licenses, many immigrants are unable to purchase, register, and insure their own vehicles and so face major barriers to meeting the most basic needs of day-to-day life: traveling to work, school, grocery shopping, medical appointments, and attending places of worship without risking deportation due to a routine traffic stop,” said Poughkeepsie City Councilmember Sarah Salem, who sponsored the Poughkeepsie resolution in support of the statewide bill. “The passage of this bill will bring a multitude of benefits to all New Yorkers. New York State and County governments will receive an estimated $57 million in combined annual revenue, and $26 million in one-time revenue through taxes and fees. Licensing immigrant drivers will help lower insurance premiums for all residents, by an estimate of $17 per person each year, which collectively saves motorists millions of dollars annually.”

“Undocumented immigrants upstate are forced to take the risk of driving without a license every day. Meanwhile, President Trump’s new deportation force is increasingly targeting immigrant drivers, making driver’s license expansion one of the strongest measures New York could take to protect undocumented immigrants,” said Jonathan Bix, Executive Director of Nobody Leaves Mid-Hudson. “Expanding driver’s license access will also benefit all New Yorkers by growing the economy, lowering insurance costs, and increasing road safety. We’re grateful to the entire Poughkeepsie Common Council for their support for equal access to driver’s licenses for all.”