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Green Light Law

NEW YORK (AP)  An appeals court dealt another blow Monday to a lawsuit seeking to nullify a New York law allowing immigrants without legal documents to seek driver's licenses.

The 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a Rochester federal judge's decision to dismiss a lawsuit by Republican Erie County Clerk Michael Kearns.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo's office

Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Friday that he’ll take legal action against the federal government after the U.S. Justice Department admitted in court papers Thursday that it was untruthful in its rationale for banning New Yorkers’ access to the Trusted Travel Program.  

The dispute between New York and the Trump Administration began in 2019, when the state allowed undocumented immigrants to apply for standard driver's licenses. It also barred the federal government from obtaining information about the immigrants through those licenses.

Daniel M. Vasta/RIT

The Green Light Law allowing undocumented immigrants to obtain driver’s licenses took effect Monday across New York state. It's the first time in 18 years, since a similar law was revoked in 2001.

In Orleans County, three people applied under the new law on its first day in effect. Farmworker Eladio Beltran was one of them. 

Beltran came to the U.S. in 2001, when he was 14 years old. He says that he learned how to drive by himself, out in the fields with a tractor, and by watching movies.

“You kind of got pushed to learn the difficult way,” Beltran says.

James Brown/WXXI News

The Green Light Law took effect on Monday in New York state. The law allows people who do not have social security numbers to apply for drivers’ licenses, which will help people who are undocumented immigrants. 

New York is now the 13th state to enact such a law. Anu Joshi with New York Immigration Coalition says it is win for immigrant New Yorkers.

Beth Adams/WXXI News

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement and the FBI have been using facial recognition software to sift through Department of Motor Vehicle databases to track down undocumented immigrants in some states.

In New York state, however, a new law that allows the immigrants to apply for driver’s licenses has safeguards against such searches.