Illegal immigrants in New York state can get a driver’s license starting Monday after a judge rejected an attempt to stop what the state calls its “Green Light Law.”
U.S. District Judge Gary Sharpe of the Northern District of New York last week threw out a suit filed by Rensselaer County Clerk Frank Merola. Merola argued the state law put him in conflict with federal immigration law.
Sharpe ruled Merola didn’t have standing to sue, but also said the ruling should not be construed as the court’s endorsement of the law being challenged, according to the New York Post.
“It should be noted that cases like this one, where the court is constrained to dismiss without deciding the legal issues at play… does not mean in the vernacular that the ‘law is legal,’ despite what any politician may claim,” Sharpe wrote, according to Hudson Valley 360. “Indeed, the court has not and cannot pass upon that question no matter how compelling the arguments are on one side or the other.”
“To the dissatisfaction of the parties and public-at-large, courts are at times unable to pass upon the merits of a case for one reason or another,” Sharpe wrote.
Merola, a Republican, said he will continue his fight, according to the Albany Times Union.
“We will continue to fight to be heard,” he said in a statement. “This is a matter of conscience for me, and something I do not take lightly. I say this as a citizen whose wife is an immigrant and naturalized citizen of this country.”
Among the proofs that will be accepted are a valid foreign passport or a valid foreign driver’s license presented within two years of its expiration date.
Erie County Clerk Michael Kearns, who tried to block the law but also had his suit thrown out, said the law negatively impacts the safety of New Yorkers.
“My concern is that, after 9/11, New York state put a prohibition on illegals having driving licenses and now with REAL ID in 2005 after we were attacked there will be a gap from today to Oct. 1 that anyone who is here illegally can get into a federal building and can fly on our airplanes and cross our border,” he said Saturday, according to Fox.
“I am now going to have to accept a report card from a foreign country and … a foreign passport as authenticated documents. I myself as the clerk am going to have to do that,” Kearns said. “We used to have to rely on a third party, the fed government, to do that so they have diminished a New York driver’s license, and we are very concerned for our safety and security because western New York is a border to Canada.”
The state has vowed to crack down on clerks who do not obey the law.
“Local officials, including the county clerks who run DMV offices, cannot choose which laws they like and which they will disregard,” state Department of Motor Vehicles spokeswoman Lisa Koumjian said in a statement. “If a clerk is unwilling to follow state law, he or she should resign their office.”
Kearns also said he thinks the law is part of a drive to let illegal immigrants vote in New York.
“This is all a power grab for the ballot box in New York, trying to give illegals the right to vote,” he said.
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