Press Release: NY State Fair Opens with Upstate Demand for Driver Licenses: Farm Workers, all Immigrants Need License Access Now

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Tuesday, August 21st 2018

Press Contacts:

Rochester: Carly Fox, 585-500-9409, cfox@wjcny.org

Syracuse: Rebecca Fuentes, 3152185708, rfuentes@workerscentercny.org

Buffalo: Jennifer Connor, 716 550 9393 JFMFPress@gmail.com

NY State Fair Opens with Upstate Demand for Driver Licenses: Farm Workers, all Immigrants Need License Access Now

The State Fair largely celebrates New York’s Agricultural industry and the workers that hold up that industry would like to have freedom of movement and protection from being put in the deportation pipeline simply because they don’t have a NYS license. “Farmworkers, are an integral part of the motor that drives our state’s agriculture. says Luis Jimenez, president of the Agricultural Alliance in Western NY. “As a father raising U.S.-born children, I want them to have the same opportunities as others. If the police stop us, we might be deported just because we can’t show a license. My children are terrified every time we drive because it could mean we will be permanently separated.”

Advocates across the state say that New York should join the twelve other states for whom getting a driver’s licenses is only about driving and is not connected to immigration status. “New York should resume issuing licenses to all, and join the 12 other states that do.  It is a simple matter of safety for all who drive, and it will generate $57 million dollars a year for our state’s economy. It is common sense policy and the Rochester City Council is fully supportive of this measure.”  Jackie Ortiz, Rochester City Council Representative

License regulations can either be changed through two paths: Governor’s direct order, and through a change in the law. Assembly Bill 4050, first introduced in 2016, would make a standard license available, regardless of immigration status. The bill gained momentum during the 2017-2018 legislative session, with 34 Assembly Members signed on, including Pamela Hunter, Harry Bronson, Crystal Peoples-Stokes, and it was introduced in Senate as S? at the end of session. Nine Senators have signed on so far.

 

“Farms are really important in Western New York and form an integral part of New York’s identity and economy, and today, Rochester, Buffalo and Syracuse stand together to say: we need New York’s elected officials to deliver on issues that are important to us” says …. The health of our upstate farms and cities are inseparable, and safe driving  for workers, by having access to a license, would drive the health of our region. Driving is not a privilege, it is a necessity to daily life, and both migrant farm workers who keep farms going as well as asylum seekers who bring new life to our cities need access to a license now.

 

“We are out here because we support freedom of movement for the workers who keep our agricultural industry alive through the sweat of their labor” said Carly Fox, Senior Worker Rights Advocate with the Rochester Worker Justice Center. “The State Fair is a moment to celebrate the contribution of Agriculture to New York State, however, for most of the workers in NY who pick our fruit and milk our cows, there are significant barriers to be able to get to the grocery store and buy food.”

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