New York’s Green Light Law Facilitates Behavior Found in 9/11 Attacks

They say people learn from their mistakes, but it appears elected political officials in New York aren’t going to be doing so anytime soon.

The state of New York recently amended its controversial “Green Light Law” to make it a felony to share Department of Motor Vehicle (DMV) information with federal immigration authorities. The Green Light Law was enacted in 2019 to grant illegal aliens driver’s licenses. New York, of course, was ground zero for the worst terrorist attack on U.S. soil, in which terrorists used state-issued identification documents to facilitate their attacks and law enforcement failed to effectively share information on these terrorists, so lawmakers must consider abolishing the law.

New York’s Green Light Law, as amended in the state’s 2020 budget bill, has dubious and absurd legal footing—and that in itself should be a primary reason for it to be abolished. The state’s law directly violates federal law. 8 U.S. Code 1373 states that federal, state, and local law enforcement “may not prohibit, or restrict” federal immigration authorities from receiving the information of an illegal alien.

The law’s new changes now make it a felony for law enforcement or DMV personnel to share data with federal immigration authorities. The state has classified sharing immigration information as a class E felony. This means should a local police officer in upstate New York attempt to report the information of an illegal alien who commits a horrific crime such a homicide to an agency like Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), lawmakers in the state now place that action on the same level as rape, arson, abandonment of a child, and money laundering.

Aside from its controversial legal basis, New York’s Green Light Law undermines public safety and national security.

Granting driver’s licenses to illegal aliens threatens national security as it enables individuals—whom the U.S. knows little about—to work, bank, and move freely in the country without much resistance. This includes terrorists — which is exactly what happened during the lead-up to the attacks of September 11, 2001.

Collectively, the 19 hijackers had obtained 34 forms of U.S. state driver’s licenses, with some being duplicates. Some of the licenses were issued to the terrorists after their student visas had expired, making them illegal aliens. In the aftermath of the attacks, the 9/11 Commission revealed that “for terrorists, travel documents are as important as weapons.”

The potential for a terrorist exploiting this law is not unfounded. In fact, more than 870,000 illegal aliens reside in New York who have not been vetted at any capacity. While most pose no security threat, 9/11 has taught us that a handful of terrorists can inflict enormous damage.

New York remains a prime target for international terrorists. Given past history, the findings from the 9/11 Commission, and the ongoing threats, it’s unconscionable that New York’s elected officials would not only put essential documents in the hands of would-be terrorists,but also deny federal authorities access to those records and threaten state employees with prosecution for sharing information.

It is for these reasons that state and federal law enforcement departments opposed the original Green Light Law and the added threats to public employees that were added this year. The state’s sheriff association, along with ICE, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the White House have also adamantly opposed the Green Light Law.

In their endless effort to accommodate illegal aliens, lawmakers in Albany have not only endangered national security, but in direct contravention of federal law, threatened to make criminals out of law enforcement officers and state employees who try to protect the public. Should New York want to avoid another catastrophe like 9/11 and keep its constituents’ interests in mind, it must reverse its reckless Green Light Law immediately.

Matthew Tragesser is a spokesperson at the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR), which examines immigration trends and advocates for policy changes.

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