News & Politics

Erie County Defies Cuomo; Won't Issue New York State Driver's Licenses for Illegals

Erie County Defies Cuomo; Won't Issue New York State Driver's Licenses for Illegals
New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo (Photo by Albin Lohr-Jones via AP)

It’s pretty obvious that New York Governor Andrew Cuomo has his eyes on the White House.

Unfortunately for Cuomo, no one cares about him. His 2014 memoir sold a paltry 3,200 copies over the course of two and a half years. Just for comparison, my last book was selling roughly the same amount per month during its peak. So, what’s a guy like Cuomo to do when no one cares about him, but he wants to run for president in 2020? To position himself as a contender for the Democratic nomination, Cuomo has been making various statements and taking various actions to establish his left-wing bona fides and probably try to sell a book here and there. In 2014, Cuomo made headlines for saying that conservative Republicans (meaning those who are pro-life, pro-traditional marriage, and support gun rights) “have no place in the state of New York because that’s not who New Yorkers are.” Because nothing says “I’m a uniter” like saying that conservative values are extremist and don’t belong in the state you’ve been elected to serve.

Will Cuomo’s strategy of using his position as governor to espouse extreme left-wing views and impose extreme left-wing policies  work to separate him from what is likely to be a very crowded Democrat field of presidential hopefuls? Probably not. Cuomo probably thought that legalizing gay marriage in New York State in 2011 (four years before Obergefell v. Hodges) was going to earn him valuable Social Justice Warrior points amongst the left, but that didn’t make him enough of an icon to sell a respectable number of copies of his book—especially for a prospective presidential candidate. Still, he’s out there trying to out-liberal his potential rivals for the 2020 Democratic Party nomination, like, for example, Elizabeth Warren, a darling of the far left. Back in April, he restored the voting rights of 35,000 felons via executive order.

Back in January, Cuomo declared, “As a New Yorker, I am a Muslim. As a New Yorker, I am Jewish. As a New Yorker, I am black, I am gay, I am disabled, I am a woman seeking to control her health and her choices because as a New Yorker we are one community and the New York community is composed of all of the above.” I know that liberals think you can identify as whatever gender or race you feel like at any given moment, but this awkward absurdity was even more cringe-worthy than John Kerry’s 2004 aspiration to be the “second black president” after Bill Clinton.

Cuomo has been pandering to the anti-Trump and pro-illegal immigration left, by bizarrely declaring at a rally that he was an “undocumented person” and that “if you want to deport an undocumented person, start with me.” His statement backfired on him, but that hasn’t stopped him from pandering to illegals. His latest initiative is his push to allow illegal immigrants to get state driver’s licenses. Currently, the issue is being left to the legislature, where it will likely fail, so I think the odds are good that he’ll eventually issue an executive order, especially given his primary challenge from former Sex and The City actress Cynthia Nixon.

But, Erie County Clerk Michael P. “Mickey” Kearns is taking the preemptive stance that he will refuse to issue licenses to illegal immigrants.

“The current bill would allow undocumented immigrants to get a New York State driver’s license by showing a foreign passport without a valid U.S. visa stamp and an affidavit, waiving the necessity to show a Social Security Card,” Kearns said.

“If the Legislature or the governor through executive order does this, we will not process any of these licenses in Erie County,” Kearns said.

“As the Erie County clerk elected by the taxpayers of Erie County to look out for their best interests, I cannot in good conscience follow through on a policy that would violate federal laws by knowingly providing government identification to people here illegally,” Kearns said.

Comically, local liberals are up-in-arms over Kearns’ position. Erie County Legislature Majority Leader April N.M. Baskin called it “a blatant disregard for the rule of law.”

Except, it’s not. Should the state, either via legislation or by an executive order by Cuomo, start granting illegal immigrants (who, by definition have violated federal immigration law) state driver’s licenses Kearns would actually be the one standing up for the rule of law.

As noted in the local alternative weekly paper The Public, Kearns’ oath of office was the following:

“I do solemnly swear…that I will support the constitution of the United States, and the constitution of the State of New York, & that I will faithfully discharge the duties of the office of Erie County Clerk according to the best of my ability.”

Kearns is bound both by the New York state and the United States Constitutions. And, according to the Supremacy Clause of the United States Constitution, (Article VI, Clause 2), federal law reigns supreme over state laws. And the U.S. Constitution specifically grants the federal government the power to establish immigration law. The Constitution clearly states in Article I, Section 8 that “The Congress shall have Power To…establish an uniform Rule of Naturalization….”  Proof of citizenship is also a requirement for state IDs to be in compliance with the REAL ID Act of 2005, which states, plainly, “A State shall require, before issuing a driver’s license or identification card to a person, valid documentary evidence that the person … is a citizen or national of the United States.” The REAL ID Act doesn’t go into full effect until 2020, but several states have been issuing state IDs and driver’s licenses to illegal immigrants despite (or perhaps in spite of) the law. Naturally, Cuomo cares more about making political statements to score points with the extreme wing of the Democratic Party than he does about the Constitution.

Andrew Cuomo’s political ambitions don’t trump the Constitution. The rule of law is on the side of Mickey Kearns. Whether by legislative process or executive order, any New York state law granting illegal immigrants the legal right and privilege to acquire a state driver’s license is in violation of the Supremacy Clause of the U.S. Constitution, the Naturalization Clause of the U.S. Constitution, and the REAL ID Act of 2005.


Matt Margolis is the author of the new book, The Scandalous Presidency of Barack Obama. You can follow Matt on Twitter @MattMargolis

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