North Country Sen. Ritchie opposes driver's licenses for undocumented immigrants
Monday, June 10, 2019 - 1:33 pm

State Sen. Patty Ritchie, R-Heuvelton, joined colleagues Wednesday to voice her opposition to a measure that her office says “would pave the way for unauthorized immigrants to obtain driver licenses.”

“Known as the ‘Green Light Bill,’ the legislation from Democrats in the senate and Assembly, would permit illegal immigrants to apply for standard driver licenses using forms of foreign identification,” her office said.

Ritchie’s office claims the bill “would leave county clerks and employees at local Departments of Motor Vehicles offices unable to verify the authenticity of identification.” Her news release said the measure “is an unfunded mandate that would stick counties with the bill for hiring employees to manage an influx of applicants.”

“Our state is facing very serious challenges when it comes to things like affordability and job creation and the fact that in the remaining days of session we are focusing on providing those who are in our country illegally with driver licenses is concerning to say the very least,” Ritchie, R-Heuvelton, said in a prepared statement. “I wholeheartedly oppose this measure, which could open our state up to security risks, lead to voter fraud and saddle local governments with another added expense.”

Ritchie’s 48th District covers northern and western St. Lawrence County including Ogdensburg, Canton, Gouverneur, Oswegatchie, Waddington, Lisbon, Madrid, Louisville, DeKalb, DePeyster, Hermon, Edwards, Fowler, Rossie, Macomb, Morristown, and Hammond, plus Jefferson and Oswego counties.

“More than two-thirds of states do not allow illegal immigrants to drive at all. The states permitting them to obtain driver licenses require substantially tighter proof of identification, and do not solely rely on foreign documents for identification purposes. Many impose limitations on driving to incentivize naturalization, she said. For example, some states offer the licenses for a limited time or for a limited purpose. Others require the applicant file for citizenship or provide proof that the applicant has become a dependent of a state taxpayer,” the Ritchie release says. “In addition, many states—including New York—use their DMVs to enroll voters, and the legislation--allowing forms of foreign identification that cannot be verified--would create new concerns over voter fraud. Unlike 35 other states, New York does not have any voter identification laws.”

Her news release said those supporting the “Green Light Bill” say expanding the availability of licenses would be an economic boon to the state and would make New Yorkers safer.