St. Lawrence County Legislature opposes giving driver's licenses to undocumented immigrants
Tuesday, July 2, 2019 - 1:44 pm

BY ANDY GARDNER
North Country This Week

CANTON -- The St. Lawrence County Legislature on Monday night passed a bill opposing the so-called “Green Light Bill” in Albany, which would grant driver’s licenses to undocumented immigrants.

The county motion passed 12-3. Legislators Nicole Terminelli (D-Massena), David Haggard (D-Potsdam) and John Burke (R-Norfolk) voted against it. Yes votes came from legislators Kevin Acres (R-Madrid), Nance Arqueitt (D-Winthrop), Tony Arquiett (D-Helena), Rita Curran (R-Massena), Larry Denesha (R-DeKalb), Daniel Fay (D-Canton), David Forsythe (R-Lisbon), Henry Leader (R-Gouverneur), Joseph Lightfoot (R-Ogdensburg), Rick Perkins (D-Potsdam), James Reagan (R-Ogdensburg) and William Sheridan (R-Hammond).

Acres, who chairs the Finance Committee, sponsored the bill and introduced it as a motion. Co-sponsors were Lightfoot and Denesha. Legislators seconding Acres’ motion on Monday night were Curran, Denesha and Forsythe.

Haggard was the only representative who spoke prior to the vote.

"I take exception to the second, third, fourth, fifth, and sixth graphs, specifically addressing the third whereas. I reject, take exception to equating undocumented people with illegal people. I don't believe they are the same and I don't believe they are synonymous,” Haggard said.

He was referring to a passage that says “Whereas New York State presently suspends or revokes driver’s licenses for various illegal acts, including non-payment of child support, delinquent taxes, and refusal to submit to a breath test, yet passage of this act would allow persons who illegally enter into the United States the ability to obtain a driver’s license…”

Haggard also said he took exception to a portion of the motion that said “adoption of (the Greenlight Bill) would create unacceptable security risks.”

"I believe there is no empirical evidence of that whatsoever,” he said, adding that the argument is “helping to hold children in cages” on the southern border.

He is referring to recent national news reports that detainees, both children and adults, after having tried to cross the Mexican border are being held by the government in squalid conditions without access to sanitary products and medical care. Some had attempted to cross the border without reporting to customs, and others were trying to apply for asylum, those reports said.

According to information from greenlightnewyork.gov, undocumented immigrants would be able to apply for a standard driver’s license. They will not be eligible to apply for a REAL ID-compliant or enhanced license. The standard license would be marked “not for federal purposes” and is not an acceptable form of identification to enter a federal building or register to vote. It also cannot be used as proof of immigration of citizenship status.

The full greenlightnewyork.gov information sheet can be read at https://bit.ly/2NrlEiI .