Some county clerks in upstate New York say they will refuse to comply with the state’s new law granting driver’s licenses to illegal aliens.
Clerks in Erie, Rensselaer, Niagara and Allegany counties say they won’t adhere when the law, signed Monday by Gov. Andrew Cuomo, takes effect in six months.
“In the memo of the bill, they talk about the reason why they’re passing this bill is to make sure that people who are here illegally can get to and from work,” Erie County Clerk Michael Kearns said, according to the New York Post. “It is illegal to hire people in the state of New York or anywhere that are here illegally. There’s an inconsistency there.”
In a letter to County Aattorney Michael Siragusa, Kearns asked for state representation in a lawsuit over the legislation in federal court, WIVB in Buffalo reported.
“After a review of the act, I am convinced that it is inconsistent with federal law,” Kearns wrote in the letter. “More importantly, however, complying with the act puts me and other county clerks in the untenable position of having to decide whether to uphold federal law or the newly enacted state law. I anticipate being sued in either event.”
Kerns said motor vehicle agencies in the area will instead send applicants who state employees believe are in the country illegally to the bureau in Syracuse.
“Speaking with WIVB, Kearns also reportedly suggested the bill may be a violation of the Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986, which would make it illegal to knowingly hire illegal immigrants,” Fox News reported.
When asked if he is prepared to lose his position if he doesn’t comply with the law Kearns told the television station, “He [Governor Cuomo] has the power. However through my research, working through my legal team, we have to be charged. There has to be some charges, and I get to answer those charges. It’s almost one of those things we’re preparing for. I hope it doesn’t happen.”
Cuomo’s office did not immediately respond to Fox News’ request for comment. His support for the bill appeared in doubt Monday after he voiced concerns that U.S. immigration officials could use state license information to target immigrants for deportation.
The governor asked for a legal review by the office of Attorney General Letitia James, who said she supports the bill but wouldn’t speculate on the federal response.
Supporters of the bill include the state Business Council and immigrant advocates who think licenses would help immigrants get jobs.
Republican lawmakers argue that illegal immigrants shouldn’t be rewarded for violating the rules.
Cuomo signed the Green Light Bill into law Monday night, making New York the 13th state to allow foreigners in the U.S. illegally to obtain driver’s licenses.
Kearns told 7 Eyewitness News “I’m not going to break the law. I can’t, in good conscious, do this.”
“It’s more than just driving. It’s a privilege. It’s a gateway document, it’s a breeder document, and I’m not going to be a part of that,” Kearns said.