A growing coalition of county clerks say they will refuse to issue licenses, and they are threatening to take their fight to court.
Only hours after Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo, a Democrat, signed the bill, Michael P. Kearns, the county clerk in Erie County sent a letter to the Erie County attorney, Michael Siragusa, saying he planned to fight the law in federal court.
They may be in a unique position to do so.
Unlike in most states, where the Department of Motor Vehicles is administered by state agents, in New York these duties frequently fall on county clerks, many of whom are elected in conservative areas of upstate New York.
The clerks said they believe the state’s new policy, known as the Green Light Law and that is scheduled to take effect in December, may conflict with federal immigration law, which prohibits employers from hiring immigrants they know are undocumented.
“You are asking me to give a government document to somebody who is in our country breaking federal law. That is 100 percent wrong,’’ said Joseph A. Jastrzemski, the Niagara County clerk. “It compromises my oath of office to defend the Constitution.”
The clerks also argue that the law’s implementation will strain their already overburdened motor vehicle offices and result in new costs, including hiring additional workers to handle the influx of applicants and training them to recognize the foreign paperwork required for an undocumented immigrant to obtain a license.
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