An informational forum on New York State's new law allowing undocumented immigrants to obtain a driver's license that was scheduled for Wednesday evening at the East Hampton Library has been canceled because the state Department of Motor Vehicles has yet to release finalized guidelines.
Those guidelines — such as how those seeking a driver's license could validate their identity and residency — were to be issued in mid-October, said Minerva Perez, director of Organizacion Latino-Americana of Eastern Long Island and one of those scheduled to speak at the forum. Holding the forum this week would be premature, she said. "We didn't want to have confusion or half-information."
The East Hampton Town Anti-Bias Task Force was to present the forum and host speakers including Ms. Perez, Assemblyman Fred W. Thiele Jr., East Hampton Town Police Chief Michael Sarlo, and Andrew Strong, OLA's general counsel.
The event had not been rescheduled as of Monday.
The law permits undocumented immigrants to obtain a "standard" license, the lowest of three levels of driver's licenses being developed by the state. It grants full driving privileges while stating on its face that it is not acceptable as a federal identification. It would not provide a path to citizenship.
Attorney General Letitia James "has been strong on the fact that this shouldn't delay anything in terms of being able to apply for a license" when the Driver's License Access and Privacy Act, known the Green Light bill, is to take effect, Ms. Perez said. The law, passed by the Assembly and Senate in June and quickly signed by Gov. Andrew Cuomo, is to take effect next month. "To undo something like that would be a tremendous precedent," she said of the law.
OLA is planning to hold an informational forum on the new law as well, Ms. Perez said, but added, "We were so happy to see the town initiate this, and wanted to pull this together so they could help inform the community."
The town board adopted a resolution in May supporting the goals of the legislation. That action followed a presentation by Mark Butler of East End for Opportunity, a nonprofit formed to help town residents of limited financial means obtain legal help. Mr. Butler told the board that the Driver's License Access and Privacy Act, would bring multiple benefits including more drivers who are properly licensed, educated, and tested; an increase in the likelihood that an immigrant driver is operating a registered, inspected, and insured vehicle, and increased cooperation with law enforcement for traffic safety as well as other crimes.
"The town, to my knowledge, wants to take a positive role in this, because it's a very positive law," Ms. Perez said.
Twelve other states, and Washington, D.C., currently allow undocumented immigrants to drive.