Driver’s Licenses for ALL New Yorkers

Driver’s licenses for undocumented residents make New York safer

** On June 17, 2019, the NY Senate passed #GreenlightNY to grant driver's licenses for ALL New Yorkers and Governor Andrew Cuomo signed the bill into law! The Green Light bill is a win-win for the safety and benefit of all New Yorkers. Hard working immigrants will be able to access a driver's license to drive to work or take their children to school and doctor's appointments without fear that a minor stop will lead to detention or even deportation. Neighbors Link is grateful to all the advocates who attended rallies and wrote or called their elected officials. And we are especially grateful to Senate Majority Leader Andrew Stewart-Cousins for showing the leadership required for bringing this to a vote and to all the elected officials who championed this bill. **

The Issue: In New York State, there are more than 750,000 undocumented immigrants over the age of 16 who are currently barred from obtaining driver’s licenses as a result of their immigration status. Without access to licenses, immigrants are unable to register and insure their vehicles, obtain and carry valid identification, or build trust with police. Additionally, many unlicensed immigrants often risk driving because they lack reasonable public transportation alternatives and must travel to work. Immigrants without valid identification or permission to drive fear simple interactions with police, such as a traffic violation, will put them at risk of arrest and deportation. This leads to avoiding police, even when they are a victim or witness of a crime.

The Solution: New York now offers three types of driver’s licenses. These include an Enhanced License, a REAL ID License that can be used for federal and state purposes, and a Standard License that cannot be used for federal purposes. This limited purpose Standard Driver’s License provides an ideal opportunity to expand driver’s licenses to all New Yorkers, regardless of immigration status.

Benefits: There are many benefits to allowing access to driver’s licenses for ALL New Yorkers. Licensing undocumented immigrant drivers helps ensure that ALL drivers have licenses which require them to be informed of traffic laws and pass a driving test, and which enables them to register, inspect, and insure their vehicles. Additionally, allowing access to licenses will improve trust between law enforcement and immigrant communities. Finally, there is a significant economic benefit to licensing all drivers, both in the increase in annual revenue (estimated at $57 million) as well as lower insurance premiums for all residents.

What can you do?

  • To view a video of a recent community meeting on this issue, click here.
  • If you would like to be updated on our efforts, please email Katie Graves-Abe at and ask to be added to our advocacy email list. Also, follow #GreenLightNY on social media for updates.
  • Our work to integrate the community is more important than ever. Please consider making a donation by clicking here.