‘GREEN LIGHT’ POSITION PAPER
Giving Driver’s Licenses
To People Here Illegally
Editor’s Note: Saratoga County Clerk Craig Hayner developed this position paper on the state’s new “Green Light” law before asking President Trump to intervene and ensure it doesn’t require New York State’s county clerks to violate their oath of office.
By CRAIG HAYNER • Saratoga County Clerk
The ability of states to regulate who drives on their roadways dates back to the Model T with the 1916 Supreme Court decision regarding Frank J. Kane v the State of New Jersey, which found the state within its right to issue registration fees.
States were further supported in regulating who drives in 1999 when the Ninth Circuit of the U.S. Court of Appeals, in the case of Donald S. Miller v the California Department of Motor Vehicles, ruled that there is no “fundamental right to drive.” And again on June 7, 2007, when New York’s highest court upheld the state DMV’s right to require Social Security numbers (SSN) from driver-license applicants or a letter of ineligibility from the Social Security Administration, in the case Cubas v Martinez.
By statute, the NYS DMV has required driver-license applicants to supply their Social Security numbers since 1995. DMV also accepts a letter of ineligibility from the Social Security Administration (SSA) along with Department of Homeland Security (DHS) documentation from anyone ineligible for a SSN.
As stated in the Cubas v Martinez decision, the policy was not the result of a post-September 11 panic over immigration; the internal document adopting the policy is dated Sept. 6, 2001. This anti-fraud policy was validated in 2002 with the DMV’s Social Security verification program uncovering massive amounts of fraud, according to testimony by then-DMV Commissioner Martinez to the NYS Assembly Transportation Committee on Aug. 19, 2004.
The current legislation, now signed into law (A3675B & S1747B), known as the “Green Light Bill,” disregards history and case law, attempting to rewrite the law in the interest of a few at the expense of many:
- Provides the Option to Refuse to Provide a Social Security Number: The law provides the option for Standard License applicants to refuse to provide a Social Security Number (SSN), allowing criminals to exploit the system. This reverses the State DMV’s law enforcement arm’s nearly two decades of work in uncovering and preventing fraud discovered using Social Security Verification.
- Requires a Visually Identical Design: The law requires that licenses issued to those here illegally be “visually identical” to a federal-purpose license. This appears to be a deliberate attempt to deceive and a violation of the federal REAL ID Act, which requires non-compliant cards to have a unique design or color indicator. While the bill states the Commissioner may adopt additional regulations to comply with federal law, the use of “may”, rather than “shall”, provides the commissioner the option of non-compliance with federal law.
- Changes Automatic Registration to Selective Service System to Opt-In: The law changes the provision that directs the DMV to provide information to the Selective Service System (SSS) of young men who are required to be registered with Selective Service from an automatic registration to an optional registration. According to federal law, with very few exceptions, all males between ages 18 and 25 must register with the SSS. This includes U.S. born and naturalized citizens, parolees, undocumented immigrants, legal permanent residents, asylum seekers, refugees, and all males with visas expired more than 30 days. These changes not only create unnecessary red tape for DMV employees, but also make it easier for people to thwart their lawful duty to register with Selective Service.
- Requires Notification to Anyone whose Records are Sought – The law requires the DMV Commissioner to notify within in three days any person whose records are sought from “any agency that primarily enforces immigration law,” informing the individual about the request and identifying the agency requesting the records. The bill also requires such agency or representative to obtain a warrant or court order to access any DMV records. This is a deliberate effort to impede federal immigration investigations and allow those under investigation to obstruct justice.
- Provides the Option of Implementation before it becomes Law: The law back dates to Jan. 1, 2019, the proofs of identity required to be accepted to include a variety of foreign documents. It also provides for the state to amend or repeal any rule or regulation necessary for the implementation of this act before it actually becomes law. These provisions provide the unprecedented ability for the State to implement policy before it becomes law and offers no time for training for DMV clerks who will be forced to accept documentation they cannot translate or authenticate. Further, in the midst of REAL ID implementation, which is creating a great influx of customers, longer transaction times, and frustrated customers in DMV offices throughout the state, this bill would haphazardly thrust even more responsibilities and a greater customer demand on our overworked DMV clerks without providing them the respect or resources to ensure they properly implement the law.
- Provides an Opportunity for Voter Fraud: Newly installed Customer Facing Devices in all NYS and County DMV offices prompt customers to register to vote during any type of license or ID transaction, regardless of the customer’s citizenship status or age. The customer must answer yes or no before their transaction can be completed. The State DMV has been aware of this computer issue, but to date has yet to address it, passing the issue along to the Board of Elections to determine eligibility after they receive a list from the DMV of anyone who pressed yes.
- Compromises the Oath of Office: The new state law to provide driver licenses to those in this country illegally circumvents federal law, unjustly putting County Clerks and DMV employees in the compromising position of violating their oath of office, which is to support and defend the Constitutions of the United States and the State of New York.
- Forces DMV employees and County Clerks to be Immigration Authorities: The U.S. Constitution grants Congress the unconditional and absolute power to regulate immigration. Further, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in 1876 that immigration regulation was an exclusive federal responsibility. This law shifts that authority to the State of NYS DMV and forces DMV employees to become experts on identifying a multitude of foreign documents from around the world, placing the sole responsibility on DMV clerks to ensure people are who they claim to be and to ferret out fraudulent documents. DMV employees would have to do this in addition to the hundreds of motor vehicle transactions the offices process daily.