(CBS News) — On Monday, the New York Senate passed the “Green Light Bill,” which is designed to give undocumented immigrants the right to a driver’s license. Last week, the Assembly passed the bill, which had the support of Gov. Andrew Cuomo.
CBS New York reports Cuomo signed the bill into law overnight, making New York the 13th state in the U.S. to allow people without legal immigration status to obtain a driver’s license.
A recent poll released by Siena College showed more than 50% of New Yorkers surveyed were against allowing undocumented immigrants to get driver’s licenses. It’s an especially contentious issue in some suburban communities where critics say the legislation is a path to citizenship.
Proponents say it would boost the economy, lower the number of uninsured people and improve safety on the road.
“It’s not about giving someone a driver’s license who’s gonna try to get citizenship. It’s about providing someone with the opportunity to be able to drive and have transportation to serve us and our communities collectively,” Democratic state Sen. Alessandra Biaggi said.
The governor said earlier that he would ask state Solicitor General Barbara Underwood to review the bill and would only sign it if she says it won’t give federal authorities access to the DMV database.
The law will go into effect in 180 days, meaning undocumented immigrants could get licenses beginning in December. Legislators say undocumented immigrants will have to follow the same requirements as all other licensed drivers in New York, including having auto insurance.