ALBANY, N.Y. (WIVB) – A federal judge tossed another lawsuit against the Green Light Law on Friday, three days before the controversial law is scheduled to be implemented.
The lawsuit, which was filed by Rensselaer County Clerk Frank Merola, is similar to one filed by Erie County Clerk Mickey Kearns, which was also thrown out in November.
“The Green Light Law is legal and enforceable, and two separate federal courts have now already dismissed the meritless claims of two county clerks,” said New York State Attorney General Letitia James.
The law allows undocumented immigrants to apply for a driver’s license. On Friday, several Western New York county clerks, including Kearns, made a last ditch effort to prevent the law from going into effect by pleading with Governor Andrew Cuomo to delay the implementation.
A spokesperson from Cuomo’s office did not directly respond.
Joined by state Senator Rob Ortt, Kearns, Niagara County Clerk Joe Jastrzemski, Allegany County Clerk Rob Christman, Genesee County Clerk Michael Cianfrini, and Wyoming County Clerk Rhonda Pierce said their auto bureau staff has not been properly trained on how to enforce the law.
“There’s no way that a DMV staff is going to know all the different foreign IDs that can be presented, especially when they can be expired,” said Ortt.
Kearns claims 27 of the county clerks across New York want Cuomo to delay the law’s implementation. While the clerks are united in their opposition to the law, they differ in their plan for Monday. Jastrzemski says he will close his Lockport auto bureau that day to give his staff additional training. It will then reopen on Tuesday. He is asking undocumented immigrants who want to apply for a license to file their paperwork at that location.
Kearns has said for months that he will not be issuing licenses to illegal immigrants.
“We’re still confering with our legal team,” Kearns said.
“In Allegany County, they will not be issued,” Christman said.
In response to Friday’s announcement by the clerks, New York State DMV spokesperson Lisa Koumjian said any county clerk who feels inadequately prepared to implement the law on Monday should contact the state.
“We have provided document authentication devices and resource guides to both state and county DMV staff to assist them,” Koumjian said. “The authentication machines are used nationally to authenticate both foreign and U.S. documents to prevent fraud, and we have provided all staff with training and additional resources in order to operate these machines.”
Another concern the clerks have is what undocumented immigrants will be able to do with the license. They fear they’ll be used as a Federal ID, allowing them to use it to board airplanes and get into federal facilities until the REAL ID Act takes effect in October 2020.
The DMV’s website clearly state’s that the licenses undocumented immigrants will be issued will be marked “NOT FOR FEDERAL PURPOSES”. But the clerks have their doubts.
“The answers that you’re getting from the DMV and what they’re putting on their website are completely false,” Jastrzemski said.