Poloncarz says he 'cannot support' state's Green Light law

Jul 10, 2019

Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz has broken his silence on New York's controversial Green Light bill, saying he "cannot support it."

On Monday, Poloncarz directed the Erie County Attorney to file a complaint in U.S. District Court on behalf of Erie County Clerk Mickey Kearns, challenging the law, which allows undocumented immigrants to obtain New York driver's licenses.

Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz says there are "significant legal issues" with New York's Green Light law.
Credit File Photo / WBFO News

Poloncarz says he gave the direction because there are "many significant legal issues that exist with the law, including the question of its constitutionality and the necessity of ensuring non-citizens are prevented from voting."

"Ultimately I do not believe this law benefits the people of Erie County and I cannot support it," Poloncarz said, in a statement. The county executive declined a WBFO request for an interview.

Poloncarz said he expects all county official and employees to enforce the law if its constitutionality is upheld in federal court. Kearns has suggested he will not enforce the law, which passed in the state legislature and was signed by Gov. Andrew Cuomo last month. He said the law compels county clerks across New York to be "an instrument to violate federal law."

"In a civilized, democratic society we do not get to selectively pick the laws we want to enforce and ignore those we dislike," Poloncarz said.

Other prominent local officials who have spoken out against the law include Erie County Sheriff Timothy Howard, Erie County Comptroller Stefan Mychajliw, and county legislators including Lynne Dixon, who is challenging Poloncarz in this fall's election. Dixon has pressed Poloncarz to take a public stance on the issue.

The county's complaint can be read here.