A Look at Licenses

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A Look at Licenses 

They want the green light.

As State Assemblymember Francisco Moya prepares to introduce a new bill that would extend New York State driver’s license privileges to undocumented immigrants, a pair of reports have analyzed potential benefits of such a move.

At an Albany press conference on Tues., Jan. 31st, the New York Immigration Coalition (NYIC), New York City Comptroller Scott Stringer and Fiscal Policy Institute joined Moya and other immigration advocates to reveal report findings and launch a new awareness campaign titled Green Light NY: Driving Together.

“Undocumented immigrants are at a serious disadvantage without driver’s licenses,” says Assemblymember Francisco Moya.

“Undocumented immigrants are at a serious disadvantage without driver’s licenses,” says Assemblymember Francisco Moya.

“With President Trump’s relentless attacks on immigrant communities, it is more important than ever before to make it clear that New York is a state which welcomes immigrants, and a state where immigrant families can succeed,” Moya said. “Outside of cities with mass transportation, undocumented immigrants are at a serious disadvantage without driver’s licenses, making simple tasks like picking up groceries, picking up a child from school or going to work a struggle.”

Stringer and the Fiscal Policy Institute each released comprehensive reports, which suggest that expanding driving privileges to undocumented individuals would support immigrant families by increasing job opportunities, while modestly lowering insurance premiums for all state drivers and improving public safety on roadways.

Fiscal costs of implementing the proposal would be more than offset by added revenues, the reports said.

According to Stringer’s report, the approximately 570,000 undocumented residents in New York City are more restricted in their job prospects and face longer commutes due to lack of a driver’s license, and also live in fear of deportation.

“The time is right for our state to make this change,” said Stringer. “When backwards rhetoric and backwards policymaking are pouring out of Washington, this is a forward-looking proposal for New York State to meaningfully empower communities that need our support. Granting licenses is not just a statement of our values — it’s practical because it makes our roads safer, brings immigrants out of the shadows, and saves everyone money.”

“By expanding driver’s licenses to all New Yorkers regardless of immigration status, our campaign can improve the lives of some of the most vulnerable New Yorkers, ensure that everyone can be properly licensed and certified with an inspected and insured vehicle, and will drop insurance premiums for everyone and result in increased revenue for the state,” stated NYIC Executive Director Steven Choi. “By expanding driver’s licenses to all, the state will be enhancing public safety, providing a strong avenue to inclusion for hundreds of thousands of New Yorkers, and boosting economic growth, an overall win for all.”

David Kallick is the Director of the Fiscal Policy Institute’s Immigration Research Initiative.

David Kallick is the Director of the Fiscal Policy Institute’s Immigration Research Initiative.

The Fiscal Policy Institute’s report noted that undocumented residents already pay about $1.1 billion in state and local taxes annually. It also detailed how increased access to driver’s licenses could create additional revenues for public transportation authorities and benefit state and county governments.

An expanded license program would mean an additional $8.6 million to the Metropolitan Transportation Authority and $28 million in annual revenues to New York State, the report said.

“Expanding access to driver’s licenses would be a big improvement in the lives of some of the hardest-working and hardest-pressed New Yorkers,” said David Kallick, Director of the Fiscal Policy Institute’s Immigration Research Initiative. “The policy will pay for itself, and it will bring some improvements in the lives of everyone else — from slightly lower auto insurance rates to a modest boost in the local economy to higher tax revenues to county and state governments and a little added to the state’s public transportation authorities as well.”