County Clerk: Criminals will abuse law meant to help undocumented immigrants, identity theft will ‘skyrocket’

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WAMPSVILLE, N.Y. (WSYR-TV) — Starting Monday, New York’s “Green Light Law” will give undocumented immigrants a better chance to have the supporting documentation needed to get a driver’s license.

The Madison County Clerk, Michael Keville, says he isn’t worried about undocumented immigrants having the ability to drive. He’s worried about criminals taking advantage of the weaker document restrictions that come with the law.

The Madison County DMV and similar officers across the state will be required to accept a broader range of documents, including high school report cards in foreign languages, out-of-country driver’s licences and municipal ID cards given out by some cities, like New York.

Some of the documents, like ID cards and report cards, have so many variations across the globe, Keville says it would be impossible for his staff to be able to verify them as authentic. Therefore, easy to counterfeit.

Keville tells NewsChannel 9’s Andrew Donovan, “Starting next week, you don’t need anything with a security feature. It’s all print-at-home, bring in and you can walk out with a six-point credential.” 

The Madison Count Clerk worries criminals will be able to get licenses with fake names and do everything from getting on a plane illegally to stealing someone else’s identity.

Anyone who wants a driver’s license needs to bring six points worth of documentation to prove his or her identity. Currently, an out-of-state license is worth two points. A U.S. Passport is worth four points.

Starting next week, out-of-state and out-of-country driver’s licenses will be worth four points, much closer to the six-point requirement.

Some documents have security features, which the DMV will authenticate using new equipment installed at each location. But those computers won’t work on documents without security features, like report cards.

Keville hopes a judge in Rensselaer County, where the law is being taken to court, will order the process be slowed down.

Addressing Keville’s concerns, a DMV spokesperson emails NewsChannel 9:

“The DMV is implementing the Green Light Law in a way that is consistent with our tried-and-true method of validating someone’s name using multiple proofs. Per the law, we are accepting additional proof documents and we are providing easy-to-use tools, such as document authentication devices, to assist staff. These machines are used nationally to authenticate both foreign and US documents to prevent fraud and we have provided all staff with training and additional resources in order to operate these machines. Moreover, long before the implementation of this new law, staff were offered hands-on training to detect fraudulent documents, and they will continue to follow the well-established process that exists today for reporting possible fraud. The DMV’s investigative unit will also continue to utilize its tools, such as facial recognition, to prevent fraud.”

– Lisa Koumjian
Assistant Commissioner, Communications
New York State Department of Motor Vehicles

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