Gov. Andrew Cuomo did not rule out a potential veto of a bill set to be voted on Monday by the state Senate that would allow undocumented immigrants to apply for driver’s licenses, pointing to the potential that information gathered by the state could aid federal immigration enforcement actions.
“Why give Trump a list of undocumented immigrants?” Cuomo said at a news conference in New York City earlier in the day.
Cuomo said both in a radio interview and at the news conference that he wants Solicitor General Barbara Underwood, who represents the state in court challenges, to develop a legal opinion on whether the state would have to turn over the information to the federal government.
Senate Democrats announced simultaneously they would hold a vote on the bill, which has long been politically fraught in New York following the 2007 attempt by then-Gov. Eliot Spitzer to reverse a decision by Gov. George Pataki to require Social Security numbers in order to receive a state driver’s license.
“Today, we will be passing legislation restoring the right for all qualified drivers to obtain drivers licenses regardless of immigration status,” Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins said. “By passing this needed legislation, we are growing our economy while at the same time making our roads safer. This is the right step forward for New York State as we continue to advocate for comprehensive immigration reform on the federal level.”
For advocates of the measure, known as the Green Light bill, the governor’s last-minute concern was seen as a potential way of skirting an issue that remains unpopular statewide, according to a Siena College poll last week.
“I don’t know what the governor’s motivation is,” Sen. Luis Sepulveda, the Bronx lawmaker who is the sponsor of the bill. “I can tell we commenced discussions with the governor’s office back in January and none of these concerns were relayed to us. Why now? I don’t know, you’d have to ask the governor.”
Still, Cuomo’s argument has not been dismissed by all lawmakers.
Long Island Sen. Kevin Thomas, a freshman Democrat, told reporters he would vote against the bill, citing concerns ICE would gain access to the database.