Kearns lawsuit, federal access to NY DMV database a concern for Democrats

Jul 9, 2019

Erie County Clerk Mickey Kearns is looking to prevent New York State from enacting the Green Light law. A federal lawsuit was filed Monday evening against Gov. Andrew Cuomo and others challenging whether county clerks can legally offer licenses to undocumented immigrants. It’s one of many concerns regarding the newly passed legislation.

Governor Andrew Cuomo (Left), Michael Kearns (Top Right), Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul (Bottom Right)
Credit WBFO news file

In response to a question about whether or not Kearns could be removed from his post if he doesn’t comply with the law, Lt. Governor Kathy Hochul said it is not the preferred option.

“We’ll certainly look at our options at that time. We hope it does not come to that. Everyone who takes an oath of office, uphold the law of the land, New York State laws included, is obligated to do so,” Hochul said.

“That’s a long way down the road. Litigation takes a long time. I have every confidence that our attorney general’s assessment that this is constitutional is correct. But again, once it’s in court we are not commenting on it any further.”

Kearns isn’t alone in believing it violates federal law. Erie County Comptroller Stefan Mychajliw recently informed county clerks across the state of his office's Whistleblower Hotline. Clerks can call to anonymously report immigrants in the country illegally who apply for driver's licenses.

Under the current Green Light law, the federal government would not have access to the DMV database. On WAMC Tuesday morning, Cuomo discussed concerns that issue would be brought to court. Cuomo asked, ‘Can you stop the federal government from accessing the data?’

“What happens when the FBI says we’re going to access the database and they’re doing it on behalf of ICE?” Cuomo asked. “Are you going to stop the FBI? Can you stop the FBI? You have all sorts of joint agreements, law enforcement sharing agreements. We use the federal databases for law enforcement.”

Cuomo said federal agencies have used California’s DMV databases to deport individuals.

You can learn more about 'How California Driver’s License Records Are Shared with the Department of Homeland Security' here.

New York Solicitor General Barbara Underwood and New York Attorney General Letitia James believe the state would win a case concerning this issue.