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Driver’s licenses for all New Yorkers

Opinion by Assembly Member Catalina Cruz

Being denied the right to apply for a driver’s license merely based on immigration status alone creates unnecessary boundaries for families to thrive. For undocumented immigrants, it makes an already difficult life, even more difficult. I know this because, for more than 10 years, my mother and I lived as undocumented immigrants in New York City.

At first, not having a driver’s license was only an inconvenience: my mother’s long train rides home after working the overnight shift or taking three kids to the doctor’s office via multiple train lines. But later, as I got older, I realized all the subtle ways that the lack of a driver’s license impacts entire families.

I grew up in parts of Queens that had transit deserts, often with the nearest subway station a 20-minute bus ride away. This meant my education and employment choices were immensely limited by my commute. I couldn’t consider colleges much farther than Manhattan and, even then, I had to travel hours on the train to get to my classes at John Jay.


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