Let’s play a game of word association. I say, “department of motor vehicles.” You say, “long wait times.” Now let’s try playing the game on steroids. That’s what New York state did this week, and the results have been predictable.
On the New York side of the Hudson River, lines outside some Department of Motor Vehicles offices stretched for blocks on Monday, as people sought to take advantage of a new state law allowing undocumented immigrants to obtain driver’s licenses.
That move was celebrated by undocumented immigrants and activists alike. On Monday, offices in New York were swamped as people previously ineligible to apply for licenses lined up, documents in hand, to seek the legal right to drive.
But how’s the new law playing out with “documented” American citizens who waited in some instances more than six hours for the privilege of renewing their driver’s licenses only to be sent away with the advice to “try again tomorrow”?
It’s not just the long waiting time that has some people up in arms about the new law. DMV employees are equally unhappy to have this new policy thrust on them without any explanation of how the law works:
The clerk in Rensselaer County, Frank Merola, said on Monday that his office would not be accepting applications from undocumented immigrants, arguing that his employees did not have the training or expertise to determine if foreign passports were legitimate.
“In all the years I’ve been here, we’ve never taken foreign documents,” Mr. Merola said, in an interview. “Now they want us to stand at the counter and make a judgment.”
Across the river in New Jersey, which began it’s own Green Light Law on Monday, one Republican assemblyman admonished that the new law was effectively rewarding people for violating the law.
Others in New Jersey warned of unintended consequences: undocumented immigrants who are inadvertently registered to vote when obtaining a license; the risk migrants’ private information could be shared with federal immigration authorities; and migrants who come to the state only to obtain a license.