BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB)
Erie County Clerk Michael Kearns is suing Gov. Andrew Cuomo to put the brakes on New York’s “Green Light” law.
County attorneys filed Kearns’ lawsuit in United States District Court to test the constitutionality of the new state law as a test case on behalf of county clerks across New York. The civil filing also names State Attorney Letitia James and Department of Motor Vehicles Commissioner Mark Schroeder as defendants.
Drivers of the Green Light Bill in Albany touted the economic benefits of allowing undocumented aliens to legally own and drive cars to work, their kids to school, and go shopping.
But New York’s county clerks, with Kearns leading the charge, say registering illegal immigrants puts them at odds with federal immigration law.
Kearns said registering people that are in the country illegally could subject him, or his employees to federal prosecution, but defying the new state law could have severe consequences, too. The Erie County Clerk says he and his fellow clerks are caught between the proverbial “rock and a hard place.”
“Of course, if we refuse, as I am not going to give driver’s licenses to illegals, we face the possible removal by the governor.”
But Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul contends, the Green Light Law will make New York roads safer, just as similar measures have done in eleven other states.
“When everyone is properly licensed to be on the road, it is safer for New Yorkers and there is a long record of that, showing the number of accidents and hit-and-runs have gone down in the other states.”
Kearns’ is also asking a judge for a restraining order, in his lawsuit, to prevent the Green Light Law from taking effect in December.
In response to the lawsuit, Attorney General Letitia James’ office issued a brief statement saying, “The Green Light law is well crafted and the Office of Attorney General has concluded that it is constitutional.”
As the state’s attorney and chief law enforcement officer, the statement went on to say James’ office “will vigorously defend it.”