Undocumented Immigrants, Farmworkers Want Driver’s Licenses


ITHACA (WSKG) — A coalition of immigrant rights groups and farm workers are campaigning for undocumented people in New York to be allowed to get a driver’s license. Twelve states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico, allow undocumented people to get driver’s licenses.

New York is not one of those states.

Celia Clarke / WSKG Public Media

Folks gathered at the Unitarian Society in Ithaca to hear from farmworkers who say a lack of driver’s licenses limits their mobility in rural areas.

At a recent event in Ithaca, farmer workers from western New York explained their need for freedom of movement in their rural communities. A driver’s license would allow them to get to the doctor, attend their children’s school events, or do grocery shopping.

At work, it would mean farmers wouldn’t have to hire more people just to drive tractors and other farm equipment.

On the roads, it would mean they could own cars that are registered, inspected and insured, without fear of arrest if they’re pulled over.

They cited a California study that showed when undocumented people had a driver’s license, hit and run accidents were cut in half.

Last year, a bill to allow this got stuck in committee.  This year, supporters hope the Assembly will vote on it.