Dinolfo preparing legislation to sue New York over Green Light bill

June 19, 2019 08:48 PM

ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WHEC) — There are still a lot of unanswered questions about a new law allowing undocumented immigrants to apply for driver's licenses in New York. 

Monroe County Executive Cheryl Dinolfo announced Wednesday she is preparing to take legal action to fight the Green Light bill.


Dinolfo issued the following statement Wednesday, saying in part:

"I am preparing to introduce legislation in our county legislature that would bring a lawsuit against the state to challenge the constitutionality of this policy, just as the democrat county clerk in Erie County has said he will do."

She also criticized Monroe County Clerk Adam Bello, saying "he is not willing to stand up to Governor Cuomo."

"If Clerk Bello will not lead on this issue, I will," Dinolfo added.

Dinolfo successfully blocked a similar law from being implemented in 2007.  As county clerk, she filed a lawsuit against then-Gov. Spitzer for his proposal to allow undocumented immigrants to get driver's licenses. Spritzer ultimately withdrew the plan. 

Dinolfo is hoping for the same thing this time.

"There certainly is a disparity between state and federal law on immigration and certainly unequal protection under the law for those that are here without legal status and who have entered the country illegally," she tells News10NBC.  

News10NBC reached out to Gov. Cuomo's office on Wednesday for his response to the county executive's proposed lawsuit. A spokesman referred us to the New York State Attorney General's Office. 

In a statement, AG Tish James says, "The law is well crafted and contains ample protections for those who apply for driver's licenses.  As the state's attorney and chief law enforcement officer, my office will vigorously defend it." 

Dinolfo says she's not surprised by the AG's take on the situation.

"Well, that is certainly her opinion but I would say her opinion is without merit and certainly her opinion supports the agenda of what the governor wanted to see happen," she says.  

Dinolfo needs the support of the Monroe County Legislature to file the suit because technically, it's the responsibility of the county clerk, who is running against her for county executive, to implement the new law.  

"Our job isn't to pick and choose which laws we're going to follow," Adam Bello told News10NBC on Wednesday. In principle, Bello seems to support the premise of the new law but has been vocal about issues his DMV employees will likely face when presented with documents from foreign countries as proof of age and identity.

"Now we're going to have documents coming in from all over the world that we don't know what's real and what's not. I think that's the heart of the issue," he says.  

Bello does not support a lawsuit against the state and is accusing Dinolfo of playing politics.  He says he's working with other county clerks around the state and had a conversation with the commissioner of the DMV on Wednesday morning to express his concerns and ask for clarity.  

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


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