On Monday, shortly after the bill was passed with slim margins through the Senate, New York Governor, Andrew Cuomo, signed a law which makes it legal for illegal immigrants to get a drivers license. Although at first Cuomo was opposed of the bill, citing worries that it could lead to creating a database that would keep records of illegal immigrants that the federal government could later use, he then changed his mind and did sign the bill into law.
Illegally immigrating into a country leaves you without a lot of “rights” that are granted to you when you are born in that country- specifically speaking of the United States here. When you’re born inside the U.S., you generally have a birth certificate and a social security number, both of which helps you later on in life.
For illegal immigrants, who don’t have these things, even the simple act of getting a minimum wage job at McDonald’s can be impossible; it’s also difficult for an illegal immigrant to obtain a drivers license. Although things like better-paying jobs and drivers licenses give incentive to non-citizens to go through the process of becoming a legal citizen, some believe that the U.S. should just grant the right to obtain a license without needing any proof of citizenship.
“It’s been an 18-year struggle,” said Javier Valdés, the co-executive director of Make the Road New York, a political group that works towards expanding the rights and privileges of immigrants, whether or not they are a legal citizen. “The resilience of the immigrant community has shown through once again.” 
On June 17, the Governor of New York signed a bill which would allow illegal immigrants the privilege of getting a drivers license if they so desired. The bill passed through the Senate 33-29, with many senators concerned about the safety of licensing illegal immigrants. Cuomo even threatened to veto the law at one point, saying that he didn’t want a database to be kept on all illegal immigrants who got a license in New York.
The attorney general, Tish James, assured the governor that the bill would not be used to enforce immigration laws. “The legislation is well-crafted and contains ample protections for those who apply for driver’s licenses. If this bill is enacted and challenged in court, we will vigorously defend it,” she said in a statement.
Not everyone was for the law being passed, however, some believe that this law takes away the incentive for many to become a legal citizen. “If we give them every right they have, they will not be incentivized to go through the process of getting that greatest gift, to be a citizen,” said Republican senator James Tedisco of central New York.
- ^Crowe, Jack. “NY Governor Andrew Cuomo Signs Bill Allowing Illegal Immigrants to Obtain Driver’s Licenses.” National Review, 18 June 2019, www.nationalreview.com/news/ny-governor-andrew-cuomo-signs-bill-allowing-illegal-immigrants-to-obtain-drivers-licenses. (go back↩)