ROCHESTER, NY (WXXI) – With budget negotiations continuing in Albany, activists from around the state gathered Tuesday in the capital to demand that legislation be included to expand access to driver’s licenses for undocumented immigrants.
Gabriella Quintanilla with Rural and Migrant Ministry said this access is important not only because of the work she does, but also personally. Her mother is unable to drive due to her status.
“My family and I have been impacted by not having access to driver’s licenses,” Quintanilla said, “and nothing would make me happier than to see my mother gain freedom and be able to move freely to do what she needs to do and not begging people for rides.”
She said a lot of students trying to get to class also face difficulties.
“A lot of them cannot drive to get to the university,” she said. “And so I think this would be essential for giving people the opportunity to continue their education, and be able to go to work and study at the same time.”
Víctor Cortez of Rochester said he went to Albany to share his story as an agricultural worker without a license.
“We live in rural areas, and we always have to ask people for a ride,” Cortez said. “And when we ask people for a ride, they overcharge us a lot of the time.”
Speakers shared how not being able to get driver’s licenses also has increased hardships in emergencies and managing a job.