Green Light Bill is a win for immigrants in New York State

On Monday, June 17th, New York State Senate passed the Green Light Bill which means that over 250,000 immigrants across New York State will be able to access driver’s licenses regardless of immigration status. It’s a monumental victory for immigrants rights and immigrant communities as well as our tireless grantee partners who have been working hard in their advocacy efforts. Grantee partner New York Immigration Coalition and former grantee partner Make The Road New York have been working tirelessly in their organizing efforts ensuring that the legislation gets passed.

Here are a few highlights from Make The Road New York: 

In November, immediately after the election, we held a series of town halls with newly elected legislators. Our members shared personal stories and helped to set the stage for this new legislature.

In December, we organized a City Hall press conference, making sure this issue stayed in the public eye through the holiday season. I and bill sponsor NYS Senator Sepulveda co-wrote an op-ed making our case for this policy.

In January, in response to our work, Latinx state legislators, with the support of us, wrote an op-ed on this and other key MRNY issues in the Times-Union.

In February, we mobilized hundreds to Albany to educate our representatives on why this issue matters to us, making our presence felt on a weekly basis. We continued to write op-eds, making our case to the public. (Check out examples of our op-eds here, here and here.)

In March, 200 MRNY members and supporters marched several miles from our Brentwood, Long Island office to the DMV, reminding local policymakers of what we need.

Also in March, we mobilized to Albany with allies from the Green Light coalition to demand passage of the bill. (Two of our members were on Green Light’s strategic committee, representing Long Island and Staten Island.)

We elevated this issue at the agenda-setting SOMOS conference in Albany. (This conference, which also took place in March, focuses on the needs of the state’s Latinx communities.)

In April, we turned up the heat: We and our sister organization Make the Road Action knocked on 10,000 doors in our communities in Staten Island, Westchester and Long Island.

Also in April, the New York Times came out in support of driver’s licenses for all, using the story of our Staten Island member Aldo as an example of why this policy makes sense.

On May Day, we mobilized with our sister organization Make the Road New Jersey, bringing hundreds to the shadow of the Statue of Liberty to call for action. We continued to share our stories.

On May 21, we joined over 100 New Yorkers as part of the Green Light coalition, to ask that the Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie confirm his commitment to pass the legislation.

In June, we confronted Long Island legislators who either refused to take a position or were flip-flopping on this issue. We kept a constant and vocal presence in Albany and in the local offices of policymakers. And 200 of us delivered petitions to Governor Cuomo’s midtown office!  (Check out the News12 coverage of the Long Island protests.)

In both April and June: we organized two statewide public opinion polls showing public support for the bill. These were crucial for countering key reluctant Democrats’ opposition to the bill.

ACTIVATEYOUR POWER Circle of Sisters for Social Change