Monroe County allows filing of lawsuit over licenses for undocumented immimgrants

Jul 9, 2019

The Monroe County Legislature on Tuesday night voted 17 – 10 authorizing County Executive Cheryl Dinolfo to sue New York State over the new ‘Green Light Law’ which allows driver's licenses to be issued to undocumented immigrants.

Dinolfo says the county’s pending lawsuit will assert, among other claims, that the new law violates the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution by putting citizens and non-citizens on unequal footing under the law.

Dinolfo, a Republican, said in a statement that she is “proud to be among a group of county officials, both Democrat and Republican, who are standing tall against Albany on behalf of our residents, who have made their opposition to this law heard loud and clear.”

Dinolfo noted that Erie County Clerk Michael "Mickey" Kearns, a Democrat, filed a similar suit this week.

Dinolfo is running for re-election this year against Democratic County Clerk Adam Bello.

Previously, Bello said that he would follow the state law, but said he had concerns about the new legislation and whether county clerks’ offices will have the resources and expertise to handle unfamiliar documents from immigrants seeking licenses.

In a statement Bello issued prior to the county legislature vote on Tuesday night, Bello called Dinolfo’s effort, an "unnecessary, duplicative lawsuit" that he said is "nothing more than political grandstanding by the County Executive to aid her re-election campaign at taxpayer expense."

Dinolfo says the lawsuit will have no net cost to county taxpayers and she directed the county law department to file the legal complaint as soon as possible.

As WXXI's Albany correspondent Karen DeWitt reported on Tuesday, New York Immigration Coalition's Anu Joshi said, in referring to the Erie County Clerk's lawsuit, that it's a "frivolous lawsuit" that will ultimately fail.

"It's just one more anti-immigrant attack," Joshi said. "We don't think it has any possibility of moving forward."