The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is taking a closer look at new laws that permit unauthorized immigrants to obtain driver’s licenses in States like New York and New Jersey. Under these new laws, individuals are not required to submit proof of legal immigration status to get driver’s licenses. These laws also restrict the sharing of information with federal authorities, such as for immigration purposes.
DHS has ordered all its departments to complete studies on how the new laws restrict or impact their enforcement of immigration laws. More specifically, the study is to determine what DMV information is already available to DHS departments, how the departments use the information in its day-to-day operations, and how the loss of access to that data will impact security efforts.
New York was the 13th State to authorize licenses for individuals in this position, preceded by New Jersey, which passed a similar law last December. The New York cuts off the ability of DMV officials to provide data to agencies to enforce immigration law unless a judge orders disclosure of the information. As a result, the State cut off access to DMV data for at least three federal agencies when the law recently went into effect.
Within three years, New York officials predict that more than 265,000 individuals without legal immigration status will obtain driver’s licenses. More than half of these individuals are likely to reside in New York City. Individuals still must obtain a driving permit and pass a road test to qualify for a license. Furthermore, the license does not qualify as an enhanced driver’s license or Real ID for federal purposes, such as flying on commercial airlines, which will be a requirement later this year.
New York officials state that they passed the law to cut down on the number of uninsured drivers, improve traffic safety, and provide more opportunities for people to work. DHS, however, has deemed the laws as short-sighted, skirting existing immigration laws, and compromising homeland security.
The Peek & Toland immigration lawyers are here to represent your interests and advise you of the best course of action in your immigration matter. Set up an appointment to talk to us today and discover how we can assist you with your situation.