Thousands of undocumented Irish become eligible for driving licences in New York

‘This is fantastic news for the Irish here ... it will make a big difference in their day to day lives’

Ciarán Staunton of the Irish Lobby for Immigration Reform in the US said the bill giving undocumented Irish the right to get a driver’s licence was ‘fantastic news’.

Ciarán Staunton of the Irish Lobby for Immigration Reform in the US said the bill giving undocumented Irish the right to get a driver’s licence was ‘fantastic news’.

 

Thousands of undocumented Irish in New York will be affected by a law change in driving licences.

The New York State Senate approved a bill on Monday to grant driver’s licences to undocumented immigrants, a deeply polarising issue that had splintered Democrats and stirred a backlash among Republicans in New York and beyond, who have already vowed to highlight it during next year’s elections.

The vote has put New York in the centre of the explosive national debate over immigration. It would reverse a nearly 20-year-old ban, and end years of political paralysis on the issue.

Ciarán Staunton of the Irish Lobby for Immigration Reform in the US said it was welcome news for the thousands of Irish living in the area. He estimated there are around 5,000 undocumented Irish that could benefit from the change in law.

“This is fantastic news for the Irish here,” he said.

Mr Staunton said it had been an almost 20-year battle to get the law changed.

“It’s been very difficult to people trying bring their children to school and getting to work. It will make a big difference in their day to day lives,” he said.

“This is a great move.”

Mr Staunton said the new law is expected to take effect in New York in about six months.

New York will join at least a dozen other states that allow undocumented immigrants to obtain driver’s licences, becoming the second most populous state after California to take that step.

Mr Staunton said the group hoped the move would now spread nationwide.

Many Republicans in New York opposed the measure, which was passed after Republican president Donald Trump moved to crack down on illegal immigration on several fronts. – with NYT and Reuters

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