Assemblyman Felix W. Ortiz (D-51st) is working towards improving the quality of life for many hardworking immigrants in New York State with legislation which would open up more options to this under served community. Ortiz’ bills (A.5690/A.5691) would allow immigrants unable to obtain a driver’s license due to the lack of a Social Security Number (SSN) to substitute their Individual Tax Identification Number in place of a SSN.
Many of these valued and contributing members of society are denied the ability to drive which greatly limits their ability to obtain proper healthcare, education, nutrition, employment and many other day to day necessities. Allowing these individuals the right to legally obtain a valid drivers license and gain the freedoms that accompany that privilege will aid them immensely in the difficult task of assimilating to their new home.
"According to current law, the only number applicants may use is a Social Security Number, which undocumented workers are not given. This prevents them from doing many things – including driving and in many cases driving is a necessity. Lack of proper public transportation limits their access to better employment opportunities, schools and doctors," said Ortiz.
In addition to being denied the right to drive, many immigrants are incapable of acquiring proper banking accounts as well. Without a banking account many immigrants are forced to use check-cashing services at ridiculously inflated charges and wire services to send money home to relatives. Unable to store their money in a bank, many immigrants are forced to carry large sums of money on them or in their home, which has made them an increasing target for crime. Along with these problems many immigrants are unable to gain any financial security without access to loans or lines of credit needed to purchase a home, vehicle or other necessities.
The United States Congress is constructing a panel to investigate and possibly eradicate the use of Matricula Consular Cards. The card is being used by Mexican immigrants as a valid form of identification, which can then be used to gain access to banking accounts and other services needed by this group. Consular cards are now accepted by more than a dozen states and over 100 banks in the United States and have been used in Mexico for over 130 years. Along with Mexico, other countries are planning to introduce similar cards including, Nicaragua, Honduras, Poland, Peru and El Salvador.
If Congress gets its way, these much needed cards and the services they open up will be eliminated and so will another option for the many hardworking immigrants residing inside our borders.
Ortiz’ has an alternative that can assist the immigrants in need while at the same time improving our national security. With a valid driver’s license immigrants will have the option to open a banking account by using their license as identification. While greatly improving these individuals quality of life, our national security is vastly improved by providing a means by which to track these individuals.
"While improving the lives of countless hardworking immigrants, we are also improving the safety of our roadways and the country as a whole." said Ortiz.