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NY Makes It A Felony For Cops To Share DMV Info With Federal Agencies

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo sneaked the law change into the state's 2020 budget in April.

Albany, NY – Law enforcement officers can now be charged with a felony if they turn over any New York Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) information to federal agencies tasked with enforcing immigration laws.

While the rest of the world was focused on the COVID-19 pandemic, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo sneaked the penalty into the Green Light Law as part of the 2020 budget in April, WKBW reported.

The original Green Light Law, which was passed in 2019, made it legal for illegal aliens to obtain driver’s licenses in the state of New York.

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The law also stopped law enforcement officers or “any person or entity” that receives DMV information to pass such records on to immigration authorities, such as the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) or U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), KWBW reported.

In April, Cuomo amended the law as part of the state’s 2020 budget.

Under the amendment, anyone accused of violating the Green Light Law by providing DMV information to federal entities that handle immigration issues will be charged with a felony.

U.S. Attorney for the Western District of New York J.P. Kennedy said that the governor’s underhanded move is “very concerning,” KWBW reported.

“It’s legislating obstruction,” Kennedy declared. “Border Patrol, for example, working the highway in the middle of the night and pulls over a vehicle, they can’t run the plates to determine who owns that vehicle.”

The impact of the potential felony charge also extends outside of New York, according to Kennedy.

For example, “if any law enforcement officer in Texas ran across a New York State registered vehicle, they could not run that plate if it was any officer who was involved in the enforcement of immigration law,” he told KWBW.

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“I think it’s very unfortunate and makes me really question the motives of the individuals that enacted this law, if their professed interest in public safety and public health is really as important as they say they are,” Kennedy added. “It forces one branch of law enforcement to obstruct the mission of another branch of law enforcement.”

Erie County Clerk Mickey Kearns said that Cuomo’s decision to amend the law while the world is distracted by the pandemic was especially egregious.

“This is shocking, this is unheard of and, especially during a pandemic, that…the governor… thought about that to put that in there,” Kearns told WKBW. “They basically criminalize police work in this budget.”

Kearns has called for an immediate repeal of the amendment and the Green Light Law as a whole.

Erie County Comptroller Stefan Mychajliw said that Cuomo has “put the lives and rights of illegal immigrants over law enforcement.”

“I just think it’s wrong,” Mychajliw added.

Cuomo’s office did not respond to KWBW’s request for comment regarding the amendment.

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Holly Matkin - May Mon, 2020

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