A federal judge in Buffalo has reserved decision on a lawsuit against the state’s Green Light law that would provide drivers licenses to undocumented immigrants.
Erie County Clerk Mickey Kearns filed a suit that seeks a preliminary injunction. He calls the Governor Andrew Cuomo signed the law in June “unconstitutional”.
Assistant County Attorney Kenneth Kirby and Linda Fang, assistant state Attorney General, delivered their oral arguments Wednesday morning before Federal District Court Judge Elizabeth Wolford.
Arguments and questions from the judge lasted about two-hours. 7 Eyewtiness News senior reporter Eileen Buckley was in the courtroom for the proceedings.
Kirby argued that Kearns is caught between “rock and a hard place.” The suit says Kearns could face federal criminal prosecution for enforcing the new law or could be removed from office by the state for failure to enforce Green Light.
“The preliminary injunction would have the benefit of maintaining the status quo,” Kirby stated in court.
But that was counter-attacked by the state’s argument. The state’s attorney said the opposition to the law is “not concrete”.
“The threat of prosecution is completely illusionary,” said Fang.
Immigration advocates also appeared in court in support of the Green Light law. The refer to Kearns’s lawsuit as “frivolous” and accuse Kearns of trying to divide the local community.
Outside of court, Meghan Maloney de Zalivar from the New York Immigration Coalition, told reporters “we’ve seen him use this to mobilize the anti-immigrant community behind his election.”
"We know that both sides on this issue, politicans, have used licenses to divide the public. New Yorkers support this and their support is increasing because the more that they learn about the law and that it is actually about making our roads safer and opposition continues to decrease," stated Maloney de Zalivar.
Kearns said will continue to fight the law and refuses to implement the new law which must begin by December 14h.
“I will not and I said this numerous times – issue drivers licenses to people who are here illegally,” Kearns declared following the court arguments. “I’m not going to do it.”
Kearns says this is not about policy or individuals, but about the constitution.
"They don’t want to get to the facts of the case. They want this dismissed on a technicality. If they were so confident in their case, they wouldn’t let us go to that next step," remarked Kearns.
Governor Cuomo appeared in Western New York Wednesday and was asked by reporters about the lawsuit against the Green Light law.
Cuomo on Green Light suit.
"The attorney general said that she was confident of a victory, that she could sustain the law, and this is not anything that wasn’t predicted," answered Cuomo.
Judge Wolford said she will issue her decision sometime in mid-November.
"My goal is to get one by mid-November,” Judge Wolford told attorneys.