March 14, 2019. This op-ed, by Monica Sibri, urges immigrants to not get too focused on celebrating the passage of the New York State Dream Act by continuing to push for undocumented immigrants access to driver’s licenses to fully support their inclusion into the U.S. The author highlights that New York is falling behind 12 other states, plus D.C. Sibri goes on to reveal that she is an undocumented immigrant herself and that driver’s licenses are needed to go to work, reduce the fear of deportation and to do daily tasks.
It’s easy to get wrapped up in this call for celebration after the decade it took to be a reality. But no elected official should be celebrating it as a triumph without including driver’s licenses and ensuring our full inclusion in the community.
The Dream Act puts an end to a decade-long fight for immigrant youth to receive equal access to higher education, but then locks them in a room and throws away the key for them to not dream beyond the classroom.
One way for legislators, including Governor Cuomo, to demonstrate their true support and to stand up for immigrants is to restore driver’s licenses for all, regardless of immigration status.
The benefits of this bill go beyond protecting immigrants. According to the Fiscal Policy Institute (FPI), the state will benefit with $57 million in annual state revenue and $26 million in one-time revenue just for granting access to driver’s licenses to an estimated 26,500 undocumented immigrants. Beyond ensuring that properly licensed and insured drivers are on our roads, the new revenue streams could serve all New Yorkers if used to fix long-standing issues, such as those at the MTA.
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