Sections

New federal law tightens rules on boro driver’s licenses

Share on TwitterTweet
Share on Facebook
Subscribe

Get our stories in your inbox, free.

Like TimesLedger on Facebook.

The Real ID Act, signed by President Bush as a part of an $82 billion emergency spending bill on Iraq, creates uniform national standards for required documents needed to obtain a government identification. The bill will also help to create a network of databases of state driver's licenses and facilitate the deportation proceedings for certain immigrants.Shirley Lin, community organizer for the Jackson Heights-based New Immigrant Community Empowerment, an immigrants right organization, estimated that 10,000 people in Queens could lose their licenses due to the new law, which goes into effect May 2008."The law does not do what it claims to do," she said the day after the signing, "It only allows further victimization and scapegoating... this is the worst anti-immigration bill since 1996."Lin said undocumented immigrants could face new restrictions, such as finding it difficult or impossible to get into certain federal buildings where an ID is required. But ultimately, she said, this would probably increase the demand for fraudulent documents necessary for work or driving. Supporters of the legislation, such as Jack Martin, special projects director for Washington-based Federation for American Immigration Reform, said it would improve the federal government's ability to search through all state databases looking for terrorists."We are very supportive of the driver's license security provisions," he said last week. "It is a way to check that individuals are not obtaining multiple drivers licenses, that the federal government has a way to check driver's licenses that are issued and is able to find people if they are being sought."The law requires that driver's license applicants present proof of lawful immigration status and accepts a passport as the only foreign document which can be used for identification.Immigration rights advocates argue these provisions will decrease security in the country by forcing New Yorkers who are not here legally but have obtained driver's licenses to abandon drivers licenses all together. Zahida Pirani, a Queens organizer for the New York Civic Participation Project, a workers' rights organization, said she believed the law would prove disruptive and dangerous. She noted the large number of delivery drivers and livery drivers in the borough."At least with a license [obtained with false documents] they have passed a test and have insurance," she said last week. The bill, with its sweeping requirements, concerns some local officials who believe it could amount to a multimillion-dollar unfunded mandate.The National Council of State Legislators and the National Governors Association opposed the drivers license portion of the bill.Both supporters and opponents of the bill agree that it could wind up costing the states between $300 and $500 million by the time it is implemented. Though the bill contains provisions for grants to the states to help pay the cost, there are no firm numbers."Unfunded mandates are always a big factor," said U.S. Rep. Gary Ackerman (D-Bayside) "We have no idea what it will cost if the Department of Motor Vehicles becomes the department to catch illegal immigrants."Ackerman voted for the bill, he said, because it was included as part of the emergency spending bill for Iraq, which he supported.State Assemblyman Jose Peralta (D-Corona) called the Real ID Act a part of a "tsunami" affecting immigration in the state. He noted that the state DMV already had enacted a policy change which sought to revoke 252,000 license holders which were using invalid social security numbers.

Posted 7:05 pm, October 10, 2011
Today’s news:
Share on TwitterTweet
Share on Facebook
Subscribe

Get our stories in your inbox, free.

Like TimesLedger on Facebook.

Reader feedback

Enter your comment below

By submitting this comment, you agree to the following terms:

You agree that you, and not TimesLedger.com or its affiliates, are fully responsible for the content that you post. You agree not to post any abusive, obscene, vulgar, slanderous, hateful, threatening or sexually-oriented material or any material that may violate applicable law; doing so may lead to the removal of your post and to your being permanently banned from posting to the site. You grant to TimesLedger.com the royalty-free, irrevocable, perpetual and fully sublicensable license to use, reproduce, modify, adapt, publish, translate, create derivative works from, distribute, perform and display such content in whole or in part world-wide and to incorporate it in other works in any form, media or technology now known or later developed.

Community News Group