Alessandra Biaggi: Driver’s Licenses for Undocumented New Yorkers Can Boost Safety for All

March 18, 2019. In this op-ed, featured in Loud, the author, Alessandra Biaggi, discusses the bill that the legislature is discussing that would allow undocumented immigrants access to driver’s licenses. Alessandra argues that this bill would generate revenue for New York State, improve public safety, and allow undocumented immigrants access to a necessity, not a luxury. The author goes on to highlight the benefits 12 other states plus D.C. experienced, who have already passed a bill allowing undocumented immigrants to obtain driver’s licenses, that include a decrease in traffic fatalities, uninsured rates, and hit-and-run incidents.

The Legislature is considering the Driver’s License Access and Privacy Act — a bill that would grant undocumented New Yorkers the opportunity to take a driver’s test and be issued a valid New York State driver’s license.

It’s a policy that’s long overdue, not only because it’s the morally responsible thing for New York to pass, but also because it’s smart for New York’s safety and bottom line. Green Light NY, a coalition of groups from around New York, has been a major force supporting this bill.

The Fiscal Policy Institute estimates that this bill would make it possible for 265,000 new drivers to take exams and be issued licenses, generating $57 million in annual revenue for the state — including $1.4 million for the Lower Hudson Valley alone. The same study estimated that as many as 97,000 new cars would be purchased and registered within three years, boosting the state’s auto industry by 2.7 percent.

Practically speaking, for New Yorkers in rural and suburban areas, a car is a necessity, not a luxury; this is particularly critical for our agricultural sector. The lack of public transportation means that New Yorkers in these communities cannot travel to and from school, work or doctor’s appointments without a car. For undocumented New Yorkers, this makes economic mobility incredibly difficult, if not altogether impossible.

Here is the link to Lohud.

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