Driver’s License Debate Fails On Principle, Policy & PopularityOPINION:

Assembly Minority Leader Brian M. Kolb

Legislative Column from Assembly Minority Leader Brian M. Kolb (R,C-Canandaigua)

A proposal before the Legislature that would allow illegal immigrants to apply for driver’s licenses is meritless, dangerous and an affront to both state and federal laws designed to facilitate a strong, vibrant nation.

Our immigration laws are built on the foundation of common-sense, equity and justice. They are there for good reason, to establish a process by which those who want a better life for themselves here in America can have it through legitimate, sanctioned means. Our nation welcomes hundreds of thousands of people from foreign lands every year, and we have laws and procedures in place allowing us to ensure the integrity of the immigration process. They ask those who want to stay to show a commitment to the values we hold so dearly. As designed, it’s a system that has worked for centuries.


Giving driver’s licenses to illegal immigrants encourages others to skirt immigration laws in place. Doing so would reward those who do not follow the law and it insults those who have worked so hard to become naturalized citizens. The Assembly Majority, by advocating this bill, is placing the wants of illegal aliens above the needs of legitimate, law-abiding residents.

The law, as currently written, removes safeguards the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) uses to verify a person’s identity and strips law enforcement’s access to databases it uses to enforce traffic laws and keep themselves safe. It also makes fraud easier by allowing applicants to refuse to give a social security number at the time of their application. Identity theft and credit card fraud would flourish under such a system. And, lastly, this bill puts county clerks, who are responsible for verifying people are who they say they are, in an uncomfortable position torn between conflicting state and federal laws.

It’s hardly surprising, a recent poll from the Siena College Research Institute showed opposition to the measure, with 58 percent opposing allowing immigrants to get licenses and only 38 percent favoring the idea. The margin was even greater here at home, where participants in my 2019 Legislative Survey disapproved of the measure by a 72 percent to 28 percent margin. This bill is bad for New York, and quite frankly, it’s bad for the country.


The Assembly Majority, along with their counterparts in the Senate, have continually pushed to prioritize illegal immigrants, hardened criminals and convicted felons while ignoring the needs of hard-working New Yorkers struggling to get by in the worst taxed state in the U.S. Their list of legislative priorities simply does not match what most New Yorkers need.

There is still a lot of work left to be done before the final gavel of the 2019 Legislative Session falls. The Assembly Minority Conference remains committed to lowering taxes, protecting residents and making it easier to own a business and raise a family in this state.

For those who do not live here, but would one day like to, we fully support their dream of making a better life. However, it must be done fairly, and through the proper legal channels. That is the only way to ensure equity for all past, present and future New Yorkers.
Email: Twitter: @GOPLdrBrianKolb

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