New York Governor Signs Law Allowing Illegal Immigrants to get Drivers License

Taxi's in New York.

Taxi's in New York.

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.” [1]

Illegal Immigrants

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.


  1. ^Crowe, Jack. “NY Governor Andrew Cuomo Signs Bill Allowing Illegal Immigrants to Obtain Driver’s Licenses.” National Review, 18 June 2019, (go back  ↩)

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