Proponents of the licenses for undocumented aliens say it could make the roads safer because they would have to pass a written test and a road test, rather than drive illegally.
They would also have to get insurance and it would generate millions of dollars in fees and taxes.
The clerks are opposed because they contend these undocumented visitors would be given preferential treatment.
Immigration activists have been holding protests in Albany, pushing state lawmakers to allow undocumented aliens to qualify for, and receive driver’s licenses.
Legislation is pending for that end, but there is also a measure that would take it a step further.
A downstate state senator has introduced a bill that would specifically permit the governor to remove a county clerk for refusing to process the application of an undocumented alien.
Kearns told News 4 if an immigrant needs the license to get work or school there are legal ways of getting there.
“We work with people all the time. We work with migrant workers, they get a temporary license. We work with students, they get student visas. We work with people that have work visas. You can get a license, a temporary license in New York state, but once that license has expired then you move on, it is not a permanent thing,” Erie County Clerk Mickey Kearns said.
Kearns claims the driver’s license could be a “gateway ID” to other forms of legal identification such as Social Security cards, applying for a job, and credit.
He is also concerned about legislation that would specifically target clerks that refuse to process the applications of undocumented aliens.
Kearns told us, the governor has the authority now to remove a county clerk it is in the State Constitution but the latest offer would specifically target those who refuse to process undocumented aliens.
He says native born New Yorkers are required to present six points of identification to get a license much more than someone who is undocumented.