Erie County taking state to court over Green Light Bill


The Green Light measure was more than a partisan measure pitting Democrats against Republicans, it was more Upstate versus Downstate.
Most of Western New York’s Democrats opposed it, and all but one of the region’s county clerks are refusing to enforce it.

The Green Light Bill was touted as an economic development measure, a matter of fairness, and safety, for those undocumented aliens who have settled in New York.

By allowing them to get tested for a driver’s license, and legally get behind the wheel, those non-citizens could safely drive to work, drive their kids to school, and the license fees could be a windfall for state and local coffers.

Erie County Clerk Michael Kearns and other clerks say they will refuse to process undocumented aliens, so County Executive Mark Poloncarz is suing in federal court to see if the Green Light measure is constitutional.

“If it is determined to be unconstitutional, then you don’t enforce it. If it is constitutional, then I expect every employee and county official to enforce the law if a federal judge says it is constitutional. That is one of those issues where you may not necessarily agree with the law, but we don’t get to pick and choose the laws, we have to enforce the laws, and we take an oath to enforce the laws of the United States, New York State, and Erie County,” Poloncarz said.

Poloncarz directed the county attorney to file the lawsuit against the state in federal district court, on behalf of Kearns, the county clerk.

Poloncarz’s reasoning is, if Kearns refuses to process non-citizens who apply for their driver’s licenses–without this guidance from the courts, representatives for those undocumented applicants, such as the ACLU, are likely to sue Kearns and Erie County.

He also suspects similar lawsuits will be filed in other areas of the state.

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