Damned if They Drive, Damned if They Don’t

March 26, 2019. This article discusses the campaign efforts by advocates that formed the coalition called Green Light NY to urge lawmakers to allow undocumented immigrants access to driver’s licenses. The author highlights that driver’s licenses is also a farm worker issue because many farm workers are undocumented and although they may live on the farm, they can’t easily leave it for daily activities and to even get to the hospital for emergencies. The author goes on to discuss how many undocumented immigrants drive because they have to, and this puts them at risk of deportation and being separated from their families.

On March 12, Victor Cortez, an undocumented immigrant and organizer with farmworker justice organization Alianza Agricola, recalled a day when he was injured while working on a dairy farm in upstate New York. “When I wanted to go to the doctor, I couldn’t go, because I didn’t have a driver’s license. I had to deal with the pain that night and another night, too,” said Cortez, standing before a crowd in a packed theatre in Albany, New York.

Cortez was one of close to a thousand immigrants—many of them farmworkers and their families—who had traveled from all corners of the state to rally and meet with legislators in support of passing a bill—the Driver’s License Access and Privacy Act—which would allow New York residents to register for drivers’ licenses regardless of immigration status.

However, advocates say licenses for immigrants would benefit American citizens by making roads safer, since immigrants who are already living and working in the country would be required to take and pass drivers’ tests. It would also boost the economy, some argue. A 2017 report compiled by the Fiscal Policy Institute found that if the proposed bill passes in New York, an estimated 265,000 unauthorized immigrants would get licenses, resulting in $57 million in combined annual government revenues from sources including license plate fees and car registrations.

Here is the link to Civil Eats.

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