The Erie County Comptroller's Office has expanded its whistleblower hotline, a longtime established way to report suspected fraud, waste or abuse of county resources.
- The expansion comes days after Gov. Cuomo signed Green Light bill into law
- Law allows undocumented immigrants to apply for a driver’s license
- Several county clerks refuse to comply with the law
The line now allows county clerks and employees from across New York State to anonymously report when an undocumented immigrant applies for a driver's license.
"I think it's being very proactive. We're not saying that we're going to receive DMV records, in any way shape or form. We're not saying that, we're not making that claim, we're not asking for that," said Stefan Mychajliw, (R) Erie County comptroller.
The move comes days after Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed the “Green Light” bill into law, granting undocumented immigrants the right to a driver's license.
Mychajliw says with many clerks refusing to comply, including Erie County's Michael Kearns, they remain fearful Cuomo will remove them from office if they report the information directly to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, or ICE.
"A mechanism for them still to report illegal immigrants who apply for a driver’s license without that fear. Anything we're doing, we have obviously whistleblower protection," said Mychajliw.
The comptroller's office will then forward the info to ICE.
"It's up to them to decide the validity of the information," said Mychajliw.
In a statement Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz said,
"The comptroller's use of the county's whistleblower hotline to promote his own political ambitions is an abuse of county resources. If he wishes to set up a statewide hotline he should do it using his own personal or political campaign resources, not on the taxpayers' dime."
"But he's not said one way or another, whether or not he supports giving illegal immigrants a driver’s license," said Mychajliw.
Poloncarz says he will not comment on the issue any further. He did, however, direct the county attorney's office to file an action on behalf of Kearns in federal court to determine the constitutionality of the new law. If a judge determines it is constitutional, Poloncarz says he expects all county officials and employees to respect the decision of the court.