BUFFALO, N.Y. (WKBW) — Some County Clerks in Western New York say they will not grant driver’s licenses to undocumented immigrants, even though it is now New York State law.
“I am totally appalled that New York State has become a lawless state,” said Joe Jastrzemski, the Clerk for Niagara County.
Jastrzemski is one of five county clerks in Western New York who tell 7 Eyewitness News they will not enforce the new state law of providing driver’s licenses to undocumented immigrants because it violates federal law.
“This law is totally unconstitutional,” he said. “It treats people who are U.S. Citizens differently than someone who is breaking the law.”
County Clerks in Erie, Allegany, Chautauqua, and Genesee counties also say they won’t let undocumented immigrants apply for a license under their watch.
“This law puts us in a compromising position,” Jastrzemski said. “Do we follow the federal law and call U.S. Customs and Immigration, or do we reward them with this silly state law.”
County Clerk Larry Barmore of Chautauqua County feels the same way.
“I do not work for Governor Cuomo,” he said. “I work for the people of Chautauqua County who elected me to be their County Clerk. If you come into our DMV with a birth certificate from another country that we can’t read, we will send you away.”
Cattaraugus County Clerk Alan Bernstein doesn’t agree with the law, but says he plans to enforce it anyway.
“I don’t think I was elected to defy the state laws,” he said.
State Attorney General Letitia James released a statement on this topic saying:
“The law is well crafted and contains ample protections for those who apply for driver's licenses. As the state's attorney and chief law enforcement officer, my office will vigorously defend it."
The Erie County Legislature just approved a resolution supporting @ErieCountyClerk request for the County Attorney to represent him in a federal lawsuit challenging the new state law that allows illegal immigrants to obtain a NYS Drivers License.— Lynne Dixon (@LynneDixon9) June 20, 2019