“We are 100 percent going to refuse, just as we have all along,” said Steve McLaughlin, the Republican Rensselaer County Executive.
McLaughlin says his office will refuse to issue driver’s licenses to undocumented immigrants. McLaughlin plans to file a lawsuit in federal court next week, to block the rollout of the law.
“But it is not just Rensselaer County. We’re getting calls from all over the state, from county clerks, and county executives, and we’re having those conversations all day today, as we did yesterday, about joining together as one group to make this lawsuit happen,” McLaughlin said.
Supporters argue the measure would help undocumented immigrants to get to work. Opponents, such as Rensselaer County Clerk Frank Merola, say, “It has a lot more to do about voting than it does about driving.”
Merola is concerned a loophole in the law would allow undocumented immigrants to vote. He fears customer kiosk devices, in DMV locations statewide, would allow undocumented immigrants to register with the Board of Elections.
“We will push them out of the office. I don’t know about the calling ICE thing but I definitely will push them to the Albany district office,” Merola said.
In a radio interview Thursday, Cuomo reiterated concern the law could create a “database” of undocumented people.
“What happens when the federal government issues a subpoena and says ‘give us the information.’ Did you inadvertently turn over a database the federal government [could] use for deportation, God forbid,” Cuomo said.
Before signing the bill, Cuomo’s office reached out to Solicitor General Barbara Underwood for an opinion. Instead, they received a statement from her boss, Attorney General Tish James, who says the law has sufficient safeguards and her office is prepared to vigorously defend the law in court.
“Based on the representation of the Attorney General and the Solicitor General, that they can win this case, fine I will sign the bill and I hope they are right,” Cuomo said.
In terms of potential penalties for counties that refuse to issue driver’s licenses to undocumented immigrants, that is unclear.
The Green Light Law is set to take effect in December.