Reed Warns About Impact Of Green Light Law; Cuomo Spokesman Calls It Fear-Mongering

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Update: 2:45PM, 2/10

ITHACA, NY (WSKG) – New York 23rd District Congressman Tom Reed is worried New York’s Green Light Law is causing some federal agencies to consider not allowing people to fly using a New York Driver’s License. 

The 23rd District covers parts of the Southern Tier, Western New York and Finger Lakes.

State officials from Governor Andrew Cuomo’s office and the Department of Motor Vehicles are challenging the statements.

The Green Light Law allows undocumented people to apply for a driver’s license. It went into effect in December.* New York is not alone, 12 other states allow undocumented people to get driver’s licenses.

Reed claims it blocks federal immigration officials’ access to the DMV database.

“There are now movements afoot at the federal level,” he said on a conference call with media in his district. “At the TSA, Homeland Security, Custom Border and Protection offices that are indicating that because of the security threat to non-New York state residents represented by New York state cutting off access to that DMV data.”

New York state officials said they have not cut off access to DMV records. They said Green Light Law requires federal agents to provide a valid court order, warrant or subpoena to do so.

DMV spokesperson Lisa Koumjian said New York licenses comply with the federal law that spells out which IDs are valid for travel. 

The DHS website lists New York as one of the state already in compliance with the law ahead of the October deadline.

Reed said there is another problem with the law. The appearance of the licenses issued under the Green Light Law is too similar to all others.

New York Department of Motor Vehicles

A standard license is the only one issued under the Green Light Law. It can not be used for air travel. (Permission: NY DMV)

Licenses issued under the Green Light Law have “Not For Federal Purposes” printed on the front and lack some of the security elements of IDs acceptable for travel. 

Reed said that’s not enough of a difference to prevent mistakes by TSA agents.

Nick Azzopardi, a Senior Advisor to Governor Cuomo, strongly criticized Reed’s claims.

“This is just another sad lie from Congressman Do Nothing, looking for a cheap political hit, facts be damned,” he said. “REAL ID standards long pre-date the Green Light Law, non REAL ID licenses are clearly marked and Reed should knock it off with the fear mongering.”

REAL ID sets standards for state-issued licenses to make them uniform with federal ID regulations.

A Department of Homeland Security spokesperson called the Green Light Law dangerous. The agency later said it could not verify Reed’s claims. The spokesperson tried to make that conversation off the record. That was not agreed to by WSKG.

* Corrected on 2-11-20: The Green Light Law went into effect in December, 2019 not January 1, 2020.