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(11:40 AM) County Clerk Says DMV Will Not Alter How Licenses Are Issued

The Jamestown office of the Department of Motor Vehicles on West Third Street. Chautauqua Clerk Larry Barmore said he has no plans to allow local DMV offices to alter the way it issues driver's licenses. P-J photo by William Mohan

MAYVILLE — Chautauqua County Clerk Larry Barmore said he will not allow local DMV offices to alter the way it issues driver’s licenses.

The decree, in effect, will likely limit immigrants who entered the U.S. illegally obtain New York state driver’s licenses despite a bill signed into law this week by Gov. Andrew Cuomo hoping to do just that.

In a letter sent to the local media in late May, and again reiterated following passage of the “Green Light Bill” by both the state Assembly and Senate, Barmore said he has no intention of changing the way licenses are issued to those who enter DMV offices in Chautauqua County.

Under the law, immigrants will be allowed to use valid foreign documents — including passports — to verify their identities when applying for a driver’s license. Proponents say the law will help immigrants get to work and provide for their families. Opponents say the law rewards those who violated federal immigration laws and could lead to potential voter fraud if the licenses are used to register to vote.

The bill’s sponsor in the state Senate was Luis Sepulveda, a Bronx Democrat.

Barmore, in an op-ed published by The Post-Journal on May 26, said allowing use of foreign passports or birth certificates as identification would place an undue burden on DMV employees by forcing them to learn dozens of new documents to determine authenticity.

“Those in support of this bill argue that it will allow undocumented workers to legally drive to their places of employment, employment that is illegal for them to have according to the Immigration Reform and Control Act,” Barmore wrote. “It is a federal crime to employ undocumented workers. Lost in all this discussion about driver’s licenses is the fact that these same undocumented immigrants will now be able to register to vote at the DMV because of the motor voter law. All DMVs were recently outfitted with new equipment known as a ‘customer facing device.’ This device faces the customer and away from the DMV employee and its purpose is to allow customers applying for a license to register to vote. The screen tells the customer that they must be a U.S. citizen to register but never asks them if they are a citizen. They are asked, ‘Do you wish to register to vote’ and by pushing the ‘yes’ button they may now register to vote.”

Furthermore, Barmore said legal U.S. citizens have long had to produce six forms of identification — including a Social Security card and birth certificate — in order to obtain a license.

See Thursday’s edition of The Post-Journal for more.