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Bill to give licenses to undocumented immigrants continues forward

A bill providing undocumented immigrants access to driver’s licenses cleared the Assembly Transportation Committee on Wednesday and is set for a vote on the floor next week.

If approved by the chamber, it would be the first time the Assembly has done so in the decade since it was first proposed by then-Gov. Eliot Spitzer, causing a political firestorm in the process.

But supporters of the bill have sought to make an economic argument as Democrats line up the votes in both the Assembly and state Senate, where the party holds majorities.

“From farm laborers to construction jobs, the tight labor market and lowering unemployment rates have created a shortage of workers for many of New York’s industries,” said Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie and Assemblyman Marcos Crespo in a joint statement. “For farmers in rural New York, the ability of their laborers to get to and from work is critical to their livelihood. Simply put, our economy depends on people being able to get to work.”

Republicans remain opposed to the bill, but some Democratic lawmakers in the state Senate continue have concerns and are in discussions with law enforcement about the bill.

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