Immigration groups celebrate 'Green Light Bill'Posted: Updated:
Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed the Green Light Bill into law Monday -- causing many of the 165,000 immigrants who now have the right to obtain a driver's license to celebrate.
The law allowing undocumented immigrants the right to get a New York state driver's license comes after nearly two decades of fighting for immigrants and immigration groups. The legislation will go into effect in six months and aims to improve public safety and bring millions to the state in economic benefits.
There were concerns that the information needed to acquire a license could be used against applicants by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, but that information is protected in the bill.
"The way the bill was written, the DMV can't differentiate who's applying for this one versus anyone. They save all the information together," says Natalia Aristizabal, co-director of organizing for Make the Road New York.
New York joins 12 states, plus Washington, D.C. and Puerto Rico, in passing similar policies.
Those at the forefront of the bill expect to see push back down the road, but say they'll celebrate for now.
"The diversity of the New York state can't be denied and we have to pass policy that effects everyone," says Aristizabal. "It really is a testament to the fight and the spirit of the immigrant communities."