LOCKPORT, N.Y. (WIVB) — UPDATE: The Niagara County Legislature has passed a resolution unanimously, starting the process of filing a lawsuit against the state over the Green Light Law.
ORIGINAL: Lawmakers in Niagara County plan to vote on a resolution to sue the state over the Green Light Law. The law gives undocumented immigrants the opportunity to apply for driver’s licenses using only a foreign passport.
Previously, Erie County filed a lawsuit in federal court over the law, which allows undocumented immigrants to apply for driver’s licenses. Niagara County’s plan would be to sue in state court. Rensselaer County has also filed suit.
The law was passed by the legislature and subsequently signed by Governor Andrew Cuomo in June. It is set to take effect this December.
“The law is an awful law. It is totally unconstitutional,” said Niagara County Clerk Joseph Jastrzemski.
Jastrzemski says he made the request that Niagara County Legislators vote to file a lawsuit over the bill. They’ll take that vote up at a meeting Tuesday at 7 p.m. Among other issues, Jastrzemski has a problem with a provision that protects illegal immigrants applying for a license from the federal government.
“What it’s asking us to do is look the other way,” the clerk said. “If somebody comes into our office who is an illegal immigrant, and we process the license, we’re not allowed to forward that information to immigration and customs.”
Jastrzemski says that provision is illegal. Supporters of the law, however, say undocumented workers need a way to legally and safely travel.
“We need to be able to get around,” said Marcos, an undocumented immigrant working on a Western New York farm. “The people who have families, they have to be able to pick their kids up from school.”
New York State Attorney General Letitia James has said she will defend the Green Light Law, and reiterated that in a statement sent to News 4 on Tuesday.
“The Green Light Law is well-crafted, and as the state’s attorney and chief law enforcement officer, my office will vigorously defend it,” James said.
The lawsuit Erie County filed in opposition of the law is set to be argued in federal court in Downtown Buffalo on September 25th.