Allowing undocumented immigrants to get driver's licenses is a decade-old issue in Albany, but it's time may have finally come.
Sources tell NY1 that, as of now, there are 30 votes in favor of the legislation in the state Senate. 32 votes are needed for passage.
"We are working really hard. I think we are a lot closer than people think," said Luis Sepúlveda, a state senator for the Bronx. "The advocates have been going on an education campaign across the state of New York. I've visited places beyond my Senate district, talking about the benefits of the bill, the safety issues."
More than 10 years ago, then-Governor Eliot Spitzer tried to make licenses available for undocumented immigrants, but some county clerks threatened to rebel and not issue them. The issue was set aside.
But now, advocates believe the climate is much different. The bill is almost certain to pass the Democratic Assembly, which is more heavily packed with legislators from New York City, who favor the legislation.
"It is an issue that is bubbling up. I'd say publicly, in our conference, "Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie said. "The bill sponsor, [Bronx State Sen.] Marcos Crespo, wants to talk about it, so we will talk about it."
Gov. Andrew Cuomo has said he will sign it. "I think it is on the shortlist of open items for the legislature to tackle this session, driver's licenses," Cuomo said on WAMC Radio's The Roundtable with Alan Chartock.
Some have suggested that counties which do not want to issue licenses could have the option of opting out. But Heastie quickly shot that down.
"If we were to pass the law, I don't think there should be any exemptions," he said.
New York would join 11 other states, Puerto Rico, and the District of Columbia as the parts of the United States that issue licenses to undocumented immigrants. But it's still not a certainty in the state Senate, which has suburban Democrats from districts where the issue does not poll favorably among many voters.