Support Grows for Bill to Allow Undocumented New Yorkers to Earn State Driver’s Licenses

Transportation Alternatives, the leading advocate in the drive to eliminate traffic deaths and serious injuries on New York City’s streets, has submitted a memorandum in support of state Senator Jose Peralta’s bill to provide undocumented New Yorkers the opportunity to obtain driver’s licenses.

The bill, S.5965B, has also won the support of the Worker Justice Center of New York, an advocate for agricultural and other low-wage workers across the state.

“These are significant endorsements, not only because they are from leading, respected advocates, but because they demonstrate that there is support for this proposal both upstate and down, and that my bill addresses two critical issues: Economic opportunity and street safety,” said. Senator Peralta.  “That’s why support for this commonsense piece of legislation will continue to grow.”

In supporting Senator Peralta’s bill, Transportation Alternatives in its memorandum points out that several of the 11 states that allow undocumented immigrants to obtain driver’s licenses “have already seen great gains in the number of insured drivers and lower insurance costs.”

The memorandum goes on to say that “where these laws have been in place for a decade or more, there has been a demonstrable impact on road safety: New Mexico saw a 23% decrease in traffic deaths between 2002 and 2010 and Utah experienced a 15% decrease during that time period.”

The Worker Justice Center of New York is the product of a merger of Farmworker Legal Service of New York and the Workers’ Rights Law Center.  The Worker Justice Center serves communities throughout New York State from offices in Rochester, Kingston and Albany.

 “Access to driver’s licenses would afford hard working immigrants many more opportunities to better provide for themselves and their families and to bolster our state’s economy,” said Milan Bhatt, Co-Executive Director of the Worker Justice Center of NY.  “We are seeking a common sense policy in line with DMV’s decades old practice of allowing all eligible drivers the opportunity to obtain a license by establishing their identity and passing a road test.  Under the current system, hundreds of thousands of immigrant residents are denied any driving privileges whatsoever—stifling their ability to drive to work, seek medical care, buy groceries, and attend to other basic life necessities.”