New York lawmakers have given undocumented immigrants the right to apply for a driver's license. The state becomes the 13th in the country to pass such a law.
On June 18, the New York Senate passed the "Green Light" bill, which gives undocumented immigrants the right to a driver's license, reports CBS News. The bill passed with one more vote than the minimum needed, 33 to 29, reports the New York Times. Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo signed the bill into law.
Proponents of the new law say it will lower the number of uninsured people and improve safety on the road. However, a recent poll by Siena College reveals that more than 50% of New Yorkers surveyed were against allowing undocumented immigrants to get driver's licenses, reports CBS.
Because it is viewed as "pro-immigration," the New York bill has been something of a political football for nearly a decade. Opponents argue that if immigrants are granted the right to a license, it may deter them from going through the proper channels and ultimately becoming a citizen, according to reports.
Conversely, Andrea Stewart-Cousins, the leader of the Senate Democratic majority, emphasized the public safety and fiscal implications of the bill, reports the Times.
"By passing this needed legislation, we are growing our economy while at the same time making our roads safer," she said in a statement.
Advocates also emphasized that the bill would not provide a path to citizenship and would not enable licensees to board planes.
In addition to 13 states, Washington D.C. and Puerto Rico also allow people without legal immigration status to obtain a driver's license. New Jersey is currently considering similar legislation.