Acting Homeland Security Secretary Chad F. Wolf has tasked his department with reviewing various state laws that allow non-citizens to obtain driver's licenses and restrict the sharing of DMV information with federal immigration authorities.
The Dec. 30 memo, which was obtained by the Union-Sun & Journal, calls for DHS, which includes a wide variety of agencies including U.S. Immigrations and Customs Enforcement, the U.S. Coast Guard, U.S. Customs and Border Enforcement and the Transportation Security Administration, to undergo "an operational assessment" of the state laws that prevent sharing of DMV information with DHS.
It specifically cites New York's Driver's License Access and Privacy Act, also known as the "Green Light Law," and a recently signed law similar in New Jersey
"Due to the enactment of state laws that directly impact the ability of states to cooperate with law enforcement, and DHS in particular, it is necessary for a department-wide assessment of the impacts that these laws create and the potential solutions to mitigate any impacts," Wolf wrote.
Wolf asks for the operational assessments to include answers to what DMV information is currently available to the agency and how it is accessed, how the information is used in day-to-day operations, what are the security consequences, if any, to day-to-day operations, what are the long-term operational impacts of not having the DMV information, are there alternative ways to obtain the information and what are short and long term solutions available to address losing access to the information.
Niagara County Clerk Joseph Jastremski, a frequent critic of the law, welcomed the development on Friday.
"I’m glad they (the federal government) is finally weighing in. I thought they should have weighed in sooner," the county clerk said.
The new state Driver's License Access and Privacy Act, informally dubbed the "Green Light" law, allows undocumented immigrants to apply for driver's licenses — and forbids undocumented citizens' records being shared by DMV employees with any federal agency for the purpose of enforcing immigration law.