New York took a dramatic step on Monday toward providing illegal immigrants more privacy rights than law-abiding citizens. On December 16, the state’s “Green Light” law took effect, having been signed by Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D-NY) in June.
The law allows illegal immigrants to apply for a driver’s license, since a Social Security number is no longer needed. In addition, the law allows unverified foreign documentation to be used as proof of identity. Further, the law prevents Department of Homeland Security (DHS) law enforcement officers from obtaining public records when they run license plates on vehicles registered to illegal immigrants.
On Monday, a DHS spokesman provided a statement to The Daily Caller outlining the safety issues that come with the New York law.
“This will protect criminals at the expense of the safety and security of law-abiding New York residents,” the DHS spokesman said in the statement.
“Besides giving drivers licenses to hundreds of thousands of people who broke our laws and have come to our country illegally, the New York law also blocks DHS law enforcement officers who investigate crimes like child exploitation, human trafficking, terrorism, the targeting of gang members, sex offenders, and drug smuggling, from accessing important public records,” the spokesman continued.
“Accessing this information is vital to building out these criminal cases, identifying criminal suspects, and enhancing officer safety,” the statement said.
Lisa Koumjian, assistant commissioner for communications for the New York State Department of Motor Vehicles, confirmed to the Caller that the Empire State would withhold vital information from Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officers.
“Under the Green Light Law, no DMV data of any kind can be shared with an agency that primarily enforces immigration law, which means ICE, Customs & Border Protection and Citizenship and Immigration Services do not have access to data unless the DMV is presented with a valid judge-signed court order, subpoena or judicial warrant,” Koumjian said.
This means that DHS officials must receive a warrant to obtain public records if they run the plates of a suspicious vehicle and it turns out the vehicle is registered to an illegal immigrant. American citizens don’t have such rights in New York if, say, the FBI were to look up their plates.
The law has angered some county clerks in New York. Some have said they would not comply with the law. More than 50% of county clerks with DMV responsibilities signed a letter to Cuomo asking him to delay implementation of the law, citing concerns about validating foreign documents. The clerks said they were not provided adequate regulations for validating foreign documents, saying the state only gave them information during “two hastily delivered webinars and a conference call.”
The clerks further stated that state DMV representatives admitted during the conference call that “they have no way to check or verify if a person” signs an affidavit saying they don’t have a Social Security Number does not, in fact, have a Social Security number.
The Clerks also said there are no standards to verify a correct translation of foreign documents and that even a foreign school report card would be acceptable proof of identity under the New York law.