On Sept. 21, New York governor Eliot Spitzer announced new rules under which the state Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) will issue driver’s licenses without regard to federal immigration status. The new rules reverse a policy change adopted four years ago under governor George Pataki that made it virtually impossible for immigrants to obtain driver’s licenses if they could not prove legal status. Under the new rules, the DMV will accept a current foreign passport as proof of identity without also requiring federal immigration documents. The policy does not require legislative approval and will be phased in starting in December. It will be tied to new anti-fraud measures including the authentication of foreign passports and the use of photo comparison technology to ensure that no driver has more than one license. The State Department of Insurance estimates that the new rules will save New York drivers $120 million each year by reducing premium costs associated with uninsured motorists by 34%.
Implementation of the new policy is to start at the end of 2007 with a relicensing process for some 152,000 residents who have had New York state licenses but couldn’t renew them under the Pataki rules, said motor vehicles commissioner David J. Swarts. A second phase, to begin in April, will allow people to seek first-time licenses. This phase will involve more rigorous screening, Swarts said, including a four- to six-week process of authenticating foreign passports and other foreign identity documents. (New York Times, Sept. 22)
From Immigration News Briefs, Sept. 30
See our last post on the immigrants rights struggle.