NY county clerk files lawsuit challenging giving undocumented immigrants licenses

NY county clerk files lawsuit challenging giving undocumented immigrants licenses
© Getty Images

A New York county clerk has reportedly filed a lawsuit challenging the state's new law that allows undocumented immigrants to receive driver's licenses. 

Erie County Clerk Michael Kearns is seeking a court injunction to block the law from going into effect while its constitutionality is reviewed, according to news station WKTV

ADVERTISEMENT

Kearns's lawsuit reportedly names Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) and Attorney General Letitia James (D) as defendants. The clerk argued in the suit that the new law forces county officials to violate their oaths of office by giving driver's licenses to people who have broken U.S. immigration laws. 

The lawsuit comes less than a month after Cuomo signed the law making New York the 13th state to offer driver's licenses to undocumented immigrants. 

Cuomo signed the measure after receiving assurances from James that the attorney general's office would be able to defend it in court. 

"The key to this bill is not the political intent but the legal effect," Cuomo's counsel Alphonso David said in a statement. "We hope the Attorney General's assessment is correct for the safety of the thousands of undocumented individuals who are relying on her legal opinion.”

James said in a statement to The Hill last month that "the law is well crafted and contains ample protections for those who apply for driver’s licenses."

"The Green Light law is well crafted and the Office of Attorney General has concluded that it is constitutional," James said in a statement to The Hill on Tuesday. "As the state’s attorney and chief law enforcement officer, my office will vigorously defend it."

Kearns was one of several upstate New York county clerks who vowed not to comply with the law. He told The New York Post in June that there was an "inconsistency" with the measure. 

“In the memo of the bill, they talk about the reason why they’re passing this bill is to make sure that people who are here illegally can get to and from work,” Kearns said. “It is illegal to hire people in the state of New York or anywhere that are here illegally. There’s an inconsistency there.”

Clerks in Rensselaer, Niagara and Allegany counties had also vowed to defy the law.