Clerk threatens not to issue licenses for undocumented immigrants

June 18, 2019 11:36 PM

NEW YORK (WHEC) -- A day after Gov. Cuomo signed a law allowing undocumented immigrants to get driver's licenses, there is a concern from those tasked with issuing them. 

Monroe County Clerk Adam Bello went to Albany earlier this week to try and get lawmakers to make changes to the bill before it was voted on but the changes weren't made and now, he and other county clerks are trying to get clarity on how to actually handle these cases.  


Right now in New York, those looking to obtain a driver's license must bring a birth certificate, social security card and proof of residence to the DMV but come December, that will change.  

Those who are in the country illegally will be able to ask for a special application.

They'll have to provide proof of age and identity by presenting either an unexpired passport from their country of citizenship, an unexpired ID document issued by the consulate in that country. Valid foreign driver's licenses will also be accepted. On top of that, an undocumented immigrant will also have to provide proof of New York residency.

News10NBC Investigative Reporter Jennifer Lewke: "They hand you a license from Mexico, Portugal, do those DMV workers know it's authentic?" 

Monroe County Clerk Adam Bello: "Well, that's my concern. Today they wouldn't know, they're not trained for something like that."

Bello says he's sent a list of questions to the State Department of Motor Vehicles and is working with the Association of County Clerks to get guidance on how to best authentic documents from foreign countries.  

Erie County Clerk, Michael Kearns, isn't waiting for answers.He has maintained for the last several weeks that he will not issue these licenses at all and now says he'll go to federal court to challenge the new state law.

"I will not change my tune. I'm going to stay consistent, that's why I'm seeking council. I'm not going to issue drivers' licenses to illegals. Remember, there's a possibility I could be removed by the governor," he says.

Bello doesn't share that tune.

Lewke: "In principle, do you agree with the idea of this, it's just the semantics? Or if you don't have those answers from DMV by December, will you be issuing these licenses?" 

Bello: "Look, I think it's inappropriate to say we're going to violate the law and openly do that.  So, we're going to work with our colleagues at the state DMV and the county clerk's association and I fully expect to follow the law."

New York is the 13th state in the country to allow undocumented immigrants to obtain driver's licenses. The law reads that they follow the same requirements as all other licensed drivers in New York, including having auto insurance.   


Jennifer Lewke

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