New York clerks in upstate counties are refusing to comply with Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s recently passed law Green Light law, which mandates driver’s licenses for illegal immigrants.
Clerks in Rensselaer, Niagra, Chautauqua and Allegany Counties are refusing to comply following Erie County Clerk Michael Kearns’s statements to the press that he will not grant driver’s licenses to illegal immigrants — making the battle no longer a one-man fight.
Green Light passed the state senate and was signed into law Monday by Governor Cuomo. The controversial bill allows illegal immigrants to apply to the DMV under a special classification to receive driver’s licenses. Applicants need not present a social security card or other documents that substantiate legal residency.
“I go back to the Constitution. You’re not supposed to help or aid anybody if they’re here illegally, especially if we know that,” Frank Merola, Rensselaer County Clerk, told a local outlet.
Merola also added that a driver’s license is not a right. Instead, “It’s a privilege.” He told the outlet his wife is a naturalized citizen and he is by no means “anti-immigrant.” He added, that he hasn’t spoken to anyone in law enforcement that thinks this is a “good idea” and he anticipates to be bombarded with passports he can’t even read.
Merola’s law enforcement comments have backing. The bill directly circumvents officer efforts to identify illegals in the Empire state. In fact, one of the bill’s provisions mandates that law enforcement cannot collect information given by illegals to the DMV without a warrant, The Niagara Gazette reported.
Kearns appeared on Fox Thursday to express his discontent with Green Light and his concerns for potential voter fraud.
Chautauqua County Clerk Larry Barmore completely rejects the bill. He told a Buffalo outlet, “I don’t mind sitting in jail for a few days.”
Barmore sent a letter to the media saying he “will not allow the DMV offices to charge the way we issue licenses.” He also details that proponents of the bill argue it will help illegals get to work, but the act of hiring aliens is a federal offense.
Allegany County Clerk Robert Christman follows the trend.
“Threats from an individual or a bureaucracy are the least of my worries,” he said.
Niagara County Clerk Joseph Jastrzemski spoke out as well, he told media, Cuomo’s bill is “silly” and he’s “totally against it.” He will also fight the bill’s principles “tooth and nail.”
But ‘silly’ might not be the operative word when it comes to the fear some of these clerks have about being sued for not issuing licenses or actually following the law, many of them deem unconstitutional.
That’s why republican sen. James Tedisco of Saratoga County has pushed for a bill to protect the clerks that don’t issue licenses. The Tedisco proposal would forbid the governor’s office from removing rogue clerks “in good faith,” The Niagara Gazette reports.
If they are to lose their court battle and their protection, “We’ll jump off that bridge when we come to it,” says Kearns to a local outlet.
“It is time to put on the brakes and give the Red light to this bill,” Barmore said.
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