Today the Assembly Transportation Committee took a critical first step and passed legislation (A.3675A) to allow undocumented immigrants access to drivers licenses. The full Assembly will take up and pass this legislation when we return to session next Tuesday. Make no mistake, this legislation is a critical step towards making our roads safer, boosting our states economy and protecting hardworking New Yorkers and their families.
With or without this legislation, undocumented immigrants are driving. Empty and divisive statements by those opposed do not make our roads safer. In fact, until 2001, this fundamental privilege was extended to all New Yorkers, regardless of immigration status. As legislators, we have an obligation to do what is in the best interest of public safety, and we know licensed drivers are safer drivers. They know the rules of the road and understand traffic regulations. By ensuring all drivers are licensed to drive in the state, we can be certain that every driver is trained, tested and operating a registered, inspected and insured vehicle.
From farm laborers to construction jobs, the tight labor market and lowering unemployment rates have created a shortage of workers for many of New Yorks industries. For farmers in rural New York, the ability of their laborers to get to and from work is critical to their livelihood. Simply put, our economy depends on people being able to get to work.
Furthermore, the Assembly Majority believes in putting families first. We know that immigrants are an integral thread in the fabric of our communities and our economy. In addition to saving all insured drivers money on their insurance premiums, this policy would enable every hard working family to drive to pick up a sick child from school, get to and from work, and buy groceries.
While our opponents continue to spread misinformation and stoke fears about the intentions and consequences of this legislation, we will continue to do what is best for New Yorkers. It is long past time that New York step up and join the 12 other states, Puerto Rico and the District of Columbia in allowing everyone the right to become a licensed driver.