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Green Light Law Makes it a Felony for New York Cops to Share Immigrant Info with ICE

— May 27, 2020

Critics of the law say it makes it impossible for federal law enforcement officials to do the jobs.

New York has made it a felony for law enforcement officials to share information about undocumented immigrants with federal enforcement agencies.

WKBW reports that the provision is contained with an update to New York’s 2020 budget, approved by Gov. Andrew Cuomo in April. The provision, in effect, acts as an amendment to the state’s “Green Light Law,” which curtails Immigration and Customs Enforcement access to New York’s Department of Motor Vehicles database.

Other federal agencies, like the Department of Homeland Security, face similar restrictions.

James P. Kennedy, U.S. Attorney for the Western District of New York, said the law hinders federal law enforcement.

“Border Patrol, for example, working the highway in the middle of the night and pulls over a vehicle, they can’t run the plates to determine who owns that vehicle,” said Kennedy, a Trump appointee. “I think it’s legislating obstruction and it’s very concerning to me.”

Kennedy said that New York’s changes to the budget and so-called “Green Light Law” were done while media coverage was focused on coronavirus, thus ensuring they were not subjected to more intensive scrutiny.

An ICE officer in Florida. Image via U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement/Flickr. Public domain.

“We’ve seen how important communication and coordination in coming up with a response to the pandemic and sort of causing people to work in isolation,” Kennedy said. He also said that such restrains on communications are a “recipe for disaster.”

However, Democrats and other immigration advocates have long said that green light laws, like New York’s, enhance public safety.

New York’s law, for instance, allows immigrants to obtain driver’s licenses, regardless of their legal status. The law’s supporters say that allowing undocumented immigrants to obtain licenses ensures that, not only are they afforded the same driver’s education as other motorists, but that they will be more likely to purchase vehicle insurance, too.

“It’s a public safety issue,” Cuomo said earlier this year. “So even if you’re not in full compliance with the immigration laws, you can get a driver’s license if you take the test and if you pass the test, because we want to make sure if you are driving, you know what you are doing.”

But some New York law enforcement officials have said it is “offensive” that they are not allowed to share information with their “federal partners.” ICE Acting Director Matthew Albence has signaled he is opposed to the state’s Green Light Law.

“CBP and ICE are two entities charged by the federal government to conduct these investigations, and we are no longer able to do so in nearly as effective a fashion as a result of this Green Light Law,” Albence told Fox News. “It makes us less effective and it puts our agents and officers in greater harm’s way.”

[note: Fox, along with most sources reporting on the issue, have extensively quoted from the same small array of conservative-inclined figures who have taken outspoken stances against the Green Light Law and its recent amendment. There is comparably little information from Cuomo or officials within his administration]


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