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Tipsheet

New York County Clerk Challenges Law Giving Driver's Licenses to Illegal Immigrants

AP Photo/Mary Altaffer

A New York county clerk has filed a lawsuit against legislation that would give undocumented immigrants driver’s licenses. 

Erie County Clerk Michael Kearns on Monday sought a federal court injunction that would prevent the new law from going into effect until its constitutionality is reviewed. 

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Kearns argued the measure forces county clerks to violate their oath of office by granting licenses to individuals who have broken immigration law. 

Gov. Andrew Cuomo and Attorney General Letitia James are the defendants in the case. Cuomo signed the bill last month.

Kearns also said the initiative is inconsistent with New York law. 

"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.” (The Hill)

Kearns isn’t the only county clerk set to defy the new law. Clerks in Rensselaer, Niagara and Allegany counties have said they will not comply with the measure

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Both Cuomo and James are convinced of the legality of the proposal and their ability to defend it. 

"The law is well crafted and contains ample protections for those who apply for driver’s licenses,” James said to the Hill. "As the state’s attorney and chief law enforcement officer, my office will vigorously defend it.” 

New York is the 13th state to pass legislation that gives driver's licenses to illegal immigrants. 

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