County DMV issues ‘less than 20’ licenses under Green Light Law

MAYVILLE — Nineteen New York state driver’s licenses have been issued to undocumented immigrants in Chautauqua County.

The new state law that allowed for undocumented immigrants to apply for a state driver’s license went into effect Dec. 14, 2019. The new law, known as the Green Light Law, made New York one of 13 states to allow unauthorized immigrants to obtain a driver’s license.

“It’s been fewer than 20 people countywide,” said Larry Barmore, Chautauqua County clerk. “If you’re an alien, as long as you are here legally, we don’t care. This part of the state, I’ve talked to other counties, we’re getting a minimum number of people trying to get a license. In the eastern part of the state, that is not the case. They’re getting lines of people that flow on forever.”

Barmore said even though the new Green Light Law hasn’t impacted the county DMV adversely, he still doesn’t agree with the law that was passed by the state Legislature last June. One of the reasons he disagrees with the law is that it allows for noncitizens to register to vote.

“That is what a lot of us are afraid of,” he said. “I don’t believe any illegal immigrant should be able to get a driver’s license, but I can’t tell my (employees) to break the law.”

Barmore said only the office supervisor or assistant is handling the Green Light Law driver’s license applications.

“I don’t just want anyone working on them. Just my most experienced (employees),” he said. “I don’t agree with the whole law, but it has had a minimal effect on us, but statewide it has had a big effect.”

In December, Barmore released a statement detailing that clerks across the state would prefer the new Green Light Law to not go into effect until Oct. 1. This is the date the federal Real ID act goes into effect. Clerks stated that implementing the Green Light law before the Real ID program begins could make it easier for people to get a state driver’s license and use it to enter secure federal buildings.

Starting Oct. 1, the federal government will require your driver’s license, permit or ID card to be Real ID compliant if you wish to use it as identification to board a domestic flight, enter a military base or certain federal facilities.

Clerks also stated the state DMV has also failed to apply standards to the translation certification process, allowing anyone regardless of their age or language proficiency to certify a document’s correct translation without any proof of such. The absence of standards to the translation certification process allows for anyone regardless of their relationship to the applicant to certify the translation of documents for anyone, including minors Furthermore, county DMV officials have no way of ensuring the correct translation of written documents and have been directed by state officials to simply “look for the word ‘certify’ on the document.”

Also, the clerks stated the state DMV hasn’t put in place safeguards to prevent someone who has a Social Security number from signing the affidavit form (NSS-1) claiming they’ve never been issued a Social Security number, enabling people to conceal their true identities.