To the editor,
In his Feb. 19 article (“’Green Light’ Creates Major Public Safety Hazard”), Assemblyman Will Barclay claims that we are less safe because New York is now one of the 15 states (along with the District of Columbia) to allow undocumented immigrants to obtain driver's licenses.
Let's consider one state, Connecticut, that has let undocumented immigrants get driver's licenses since 2016. This expansion was seen as a contributing factor to a nine percent drop in hit-and-run incidents from 2016 to 2018. Besides being less likely to fear being stopped (and less likely to flee), licensed drivers have had to show they’re qualified to share the road. A May 24, 2019 National Public Radio report quoted Charles Grasso of the state’s Transportation Safety Research Center (and a former police sergeant): "People that have gotten licenses ... [are] trained right, so it has made the roads safer.” (In addition, having more licensed drivers on the road has made it quicker and easier for officers to issue traffic tickets and generated $7.5 million in license fees over a four-year period for the state.)
Mr. Barclay holds New York’s Green Light law is “intentionally designed to obstruct security officials in their efforts to combat drug trafficking, human trafficking and transnational gang activities.” The law does not give access to data for standard administrative requests because the law specifies that the licenses are “not a public record.” However, there are exceptions “where necessary to comply with a lawful court order, judicial warrant signed by a judge…, or subpoena for individual records issued pursuant to the criminal procedure law or the civil practice law and rules.”
US Customs and Immigration Enforcement (ICE) has many sources on criminal activity at its disposal: for example, data from the National Counterterrorism Center and the Law Enforcement Data Exchange as well as FBI data from local jurisdictions through the Secure Communities program. However, “ICE’s access to driver data is particularly crucial given the Trump administration’s directive that ICE agents target ‘all removable aliens’ for deportation, as opposed to just those with criminal records.” (Felipe De La Hoz, Gaby Del Valle, Border/Lines newsletter, February 14, 2020).
I do agree with Mr. Barclay that “it should not be surprising that New York will no longer be allowed to participate in Global Entry and other ‘trusted traveler’ programs”—not for any reasons of public safety, though, but because it fits a pattern of punishing states for actions displeasing this administration.