Brabenec: No Driver Licenses for Illegal Immigrants

A Column from the Desk of Assemblyman Karl Brabenec (R,C-Deerpark)

Throughout the chaos engulfing New York during the migrant crisis, numerous pressing issues demand resolution. These challenges, from the mismanagement of the registration system to the shortage of housing for migrants, have been exacerbated by political turmoil in New York City. Among the many problems plaguing the handling of this crisis, one issue that should not be overlooked is the granting of driver's licenses to migrants.

This is an issue I've closely monitored since 2019, when an amendment was passed allowing undocumented immigrants to obtain driver's licenses during the Cuomo administration. I had several reservations about this proposal. It blurred the line between state independence and federal compliance, raised concerns about the authenticity of documents used, and hindered law enforcement's ability to track individuals who were issued these licenses. These concerns were voiced not only by advocates against the move but also by law enforcement professionals.

Our laws exist for a reason, and they must be upheld to maintain the integrity of our immigration system. Granting licenses to those who have entered the country unlawfully undermines the rule of law and can incentivize further illegal immigration. We must prioritize the safety and security of our communities. By providing driver's licenses to undocumented immigrants, we risk compromising our ability to conduct thorough background checks and ensure that those on our roads are responsible and law-abiding individuals. Furthermore, this policy is fundamentally unfair to legal immigrants and citizens who have worked hard to follow the proper procedures and uphold our nation's laws. We must maintain that following the rules and respecting our laws are the foundations of a just and orderly society.

Law enforcement will bear a disproportionate burden as a result of such legislation. Relaxed documentation requirements will be the most significant flaw if we fail to adjust our perceptions and procedures accordingly. I've previously proposed repealing this law to address the consequences that many constituents across the state are worried about to ensure New York remains free from fraud and crime. I hope that, during this new crisis, my colleagues can come to a consensus and join me in ensuring that New York continues to be a place where we do not have to tolerate unnecessary crime.