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Immigrant Farmworkers Call on Gov. Cuomo to Expand Access to Standard Driver's Licenses

Scott Willis

Farmworkers in Central New York and across the state are hoping to get Governor Cuomo’s attention when he opens the state fair on Wednesday.  Rebecca Fuentes is with the Workers Center of CNY.

"We know we're going to have this huge celebration of agriculture at the New York State Fair.   we'll all go to see the dairy pavilion, the apples, everything New York offers.  Let's remember who is behind that labor."

Members of the Green Light New York Campaign held events Tuesday in Syracuse, Rochester, and Buffalo asking Cuomo to sign an executive order restoring the Standard driver’s license.  Dairy farm worker Victor Hernandez says it would allow residents, regardless of immigration status, the freedom to drive to the hospital, grocery store, or to take their children to school.  He spoke through an interpreter. 

"We are here, we are part of the community.  This will make it easier for us to move, without fear of the police stopping us and calling border patrol.  This will continue to be the cause of  separation of families.  We are not criminals.  We are here to work at the jobs not a lot of people want to do."

Hernandez says the Standard License would improve safety on the roads, and add roughly $57 million in annual revenue to the state’s coffers through taxes and fees. 

"Governor Cuomo says he supports immigrants in New York.  So we want see him do something.  We want not only words.  We want actions.

Paul Weichselbaum is a coordinator with the CNY Solidarity Coalition.

"Governor Cuomo has said he's a progressive and suppoter of immigrants.  Let him put his money, so to speak, where his mouth is.  He can issue that executive order, and can have this change happen rapidly."

The standard licenses were eliminated after the 9/11 terrorist attacks, and were only briefly restored under Governor Spitzer in 2007 before being rescinded again.            

Scott Willis covers politics, local government, transportation, and arts and culture for WAER. He came to Syracuse from Detroit in 2001, where he began his career in radio as an intern and freelance reporter. Scott is honored and privileged to bring the day’s news and in-depth feature reporting to WAER’s dedicated and generous listeners. You can find him on twitter @swillisWAER and email him at