Republicans in the state Senate on Wednesday reiterated their opposition to a bill that would extend access to driver’s licenses for undocumented immigrants living in New York.
“We are a nation of laws and we respect those laws,” said Senate Minority Leader John Flanagan at a news conference. “Some people get uncomfortable when you use the word illegal. I’m not going to use any other word. They’re here illegally.”
Republicans in the past have used the driver’s license issue to effect in political campaigns, running TV ads and mailers in battleground districts that raised the prospect of bills designed to aid undocumented immigrants, such as providing access to tuition assistance to undocumented immigrants in addition to the driver’s license provision.
But Democrats gained control of the state Senate last year in a landslide and now hold a comfortable majority in the chamber. The tuition legislation, known as the DREAM Act, was approved earlier this year.
“None of my constituents think they should be able to break the law and be rewarded for it," said Sen. Jim Tedisco of the driver’s license measure, known as the Green Light Bill. “This is not a right; it’s a privilege in New York state.”
Nevertheless, the passage of the measure is in doubt as lawmakers from suburban districts remain on the fence.
“There are certainly some safety concerns that have been raised by law enforcement agencies about how a ID can be used and that’s something we’re looking at very closely,” said Sen. Todd Kaminsky. “It’s our job to do our due diligence and check every fact and something that impacts safety has to be looked at very closely.”