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Green Light Law could cut access to DMV records for police agencies

Police agencies must sign promise not to share with feds
Posted at 11:17 AM, Jan 16, 2020
and last updated 2020-01-16 17:39:20-05

BUFFALO, NY (WKBW) — There is more controversy surrounding the State’s new Green Light Law that provides driver’s licenses for those who have entered the country illegally.

The Green Light Law no longer allows access to DMV records unless the law enforcement agencies agree not to share it with federal agencies like Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).

Law enforcement agencies are asked to sign an agreement with DMV promising records would not be turned over to the federal immigration agency. This would include photographs used in identification.

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State DMV Commissioner Mark Schroeder appeared Thursday to deliver a State of State presentation at Amherst Town Hall.

New York State DMV Commissioner Mark Schroeder was in Western New York Thursday where he delivered a presentation of the Governor's recent State of the State address to a small group at Amherst Town Hall.

That's where we asked him about the Green Light Law. Commissioner Schroeder said it is part of the law’s privacy act.

“They get the information that they need and what they're agreeing to is that they're not going to share that information with immigration agencies. That's what that's all about,” responded Schroeder.

But not all police and sheriff agencies met a January 11th deadline to sign the agreement and that means they cannot access DMV photos.

The state Department of Criminal Justice Services tells 7 Eyewitness News there are still 45 agencies statewide that haven't signed it.

“This is something that the law enforcement agency needs to feel comfortable. And get clarification from the Department of Criminal Justice just to make sure they understand what they want to do and then it would be their decision to do it, but the law is pretty clear,” Schroeder remarked.

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State DMV Commissioner Mark Schroeder is appearing in Western New York Thursday talked with reporters about the Green Light Law.

“But it appears it's like forcing the hand of them – not to supply information of someone that's illegally here in the country?” Buckley asked. “That isn't the intent. That isn't anything I can really elaborate on anything more,” responded Schroeder.

The Buffalo Police Department and Erie County Sheriff's Office both say they have signed the agreement.

Spokesperson Scott Zylka tells 7 Eyewitness News, “after reviewing the agency’s options and considering officer and public safety, the Erie County Sheriff’s Office signed the agreement to maintain the agency’s access to the DMV Database.”

The Olean Times Herald reports the Cattaraugus County Sheriff’s Office also signed the agreement.

The Green Light Law has been under fire from many county clerks. An appeal against the law continues in Erie County.

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State DMV Commissioner Mark Schroeder shows example of REAL ID.

“As the DMV commissioner, could you give it a letter grade – right now – on how the law is going?” Buckley questioned. “No, I can't because the reason is - there are some many different aspects of it,” Schroeder answered.

The Department of Criminal Justice says it’s been receiving agreements since the deadline and are restoring access once received.

"Under the Green Light Law, no DMV data of any kind can be shared with an agency that primarily enforces immigration law, which means ICE, Customs & Border Protection and Citizenship and Immigration Services do not have access to data unless the DMV is presented with a valid judge-signed court order, subpoena or judicial warrant. The updated agreements are meant to further ensure that other agencies with access to DMV Photo do not disclose that information to ICE, Customs & Border Protection and Citizenship and Immigration Services as stipulated in the law. Agencies that do have access to DMV Photo have no way of knowing if a person is undocumented or not," said Department of Criminal Justice statement.