NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Hours-long lines greeted thousands of people outside Department of Motor Vehicles offices across the state on Monday.
For the first time, undocumented immigrants living in New York are allowed to apply for a driver’s license, CBS2’s Lisa Rozner reported.
For Santon Leonel, every second he waited in line was worth it.
“I didn’t sleep at all last night because I wanted to be here this morning and I’m here,” Leonel said.
The father is an undocumented immigrant from Honduras. He has lived in America for 14 years, but joined in with thousands of others on Monday, applying for a New York license for the first time after the state’s so-called “Green Light Law” went onto effect on Monday.
“I’m so excited that this is happening in New York,” Leonel said.
“I’m in the need of a license because I have seven children and it’s hard for me to travel,” fellow immigrant Yadhira Alcazar added,
Massive lines formed outside DMVs across the state, including on Staten Island and in Brooklyn, where one man was in line an hour before the office even opened.
“We waited for four hours. We come like 7:30. I’m so happy because I get it,” the man said.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed the law in June which allows people to apply for a driver’s license without providing a Social Security number. Instead, applicants can use alternative forms like passports and driver’s licenses issued in other countries.
Republican Assemblywoman Nicole Malliotiakis is against the new law. Back in June, she spoke on camera against it.
“That should be something we should truly be concerned about in a post-9/11 world, that we’re about to issue driver’s licenses to individuals and not know exactly who they are,” Malliotakis said.
A recent poll released by Siena College shows more than 50 percent of New Yorkers surveyed were against allowing undocumented immigrants to get driver’s licenses. However, traffic lawyer John Mazzella said that’s not stopping them. He has never seen such long lines.
“So as long as you haven’t been arrested or had any problems in New York state involving driving, you can apply for and usually receive a New York state driver’s license,” Mazzella said.
Applicants must still get a permit and pass a road test to qualify for a standard driver’s license.
Late Monday afternoon, the New Jersey Legislature passed bills to expand access to driver’s licenses regardless of immigration status, age or gender identity. The bill is next expected to go to Gov. Phil Murphy.