As the clock ticks toward 2020, the Green Light Law rolled out into reality last week. The Columbia County Department of Motor Vehicles and most other DMVs across the state deserve a big congratulations.
Columbia County at the same time gave us a Christmas gift and ushered in the new year the right way. The Columbia County DMV handled nearly 150 undocumented immigrants applying for learner’s permits or driver’s licenses.
To the best of our knowledge, there were no hints of fraud, no illegal voting and no disturbances in the flow of business. It was, by all accounts, a normal day at the office for everyone. It could not have gone more smoothly if it had been scripted.
Now it’s incumbent upon Columbia County to become a model for the Green Light Law and demonstrate to other New York counties how it can work effectively and efficiently.
Still, opposition to the law runs high. Three lawsuits were filed by county clerks to challenge Green Light; two of these were tossed out. A coalition of 27 county clerks wrote a letter last week urging the state DMV to postpone the law’s rollout until October 2020, citing concerns about proper training to issue licenses. Federal elected officials have become involved, writing letters to Gov. Andrew Cuomo to change or reverse the law. And state legislators, most recently state Sen. Daphne Jordan, R-43, have introduced legislation to amend Green Light and protect DMV employees whether or not they decide to enforce the law.
The mechanism of Green Light seemed easy for the Columbia County DMV staff to understand. The people who staffed the DMV, including Columbia County Sanctuary Movement Executive Director Bryan MacCormack, seemed to have the proper training. Some friendly words and sincere support helped a great deal. And here we should point out that county clerks take the same oath to uphold the law. So to the clerks who decide not to enforce Green Light, we answer, do your job.
Columbia County’s first day under the Green Light Law appeared to be an unqualified success. The eyes of New York state are upon us.