New York State Executive Chamber | Governor Eliot Spitzer

October 27, 2007


Governor Eliot Spitzer today stood with Department of Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff to announce an agreement that will make New York’s licensing system the most secure and most comprehensive license system in the country – one that will offer New Yorkers maximum choice for driver's licenses, uphold the strictest security standards and ensure the economic vitality of Upstate New York.

The agreement stipulates that:

As a result of this comprehensive license agreement, New York will offer three separate and secure licenses all used for different purposes – an “Enhanced Drivers License” for crossing the New York-Canadian border, a federally-approved license to fly on planes and a New York State license for driving and identification purposes.

The New York State license will continue to be available to both undocumented immigrants and lawful residents who simply choose not to purchase one of the federally-approved licenses, either because they already have a passport (35% of New Yorkers do), don’t want to pay an extra fee for one of these new federal licenses, or cannot meet the extra requirements necessary to get them. The state-approved license will simply say “not for U.S. government purposes.”

According to Secretary Chertoff: “In sum, that clarification, along with implementing REAL ID and Enhanced Drivers Licenses represents a major step forward for security, both for New York and for the country.”

“As New Yorkers who have felt first hand terrorism’s brutal consequences, and who have known what it is like to have our communities under siege, we take the threat of terrorism very seriously,” said Governor Spitzer.

“This agreement represents a major step forward for national security and will make New York and the entire country safer. It allows us to continue moving forward to license undocumented immigrants securely, while also allowing New York to implement the steps necessary to avoid economic and convenience costs to all New Yorkers as new federal travel restrictions come into effect.”

“We are pleased DHS has worked with us to address many of our concerns about REAL ID, which allows New York to begin implementing the system so New Yorkers will not need a passport simply to board a plane. DHS also heard our concerns about the need to safeguard our Upstate economy, and agreed to allow us to provide an enhanced drivers license as an alternative to a passport to permit the free-flow of commerce across the New York-Canadian border.”

“This agreement also demonstrated the benefits of putting politics aside when advancing sound policy. I respect Secretary Chertoff’s feelings about providing undocumented immigrants with driver's licenses, and applaud him and the Department of Homeland Security for recognizing that this is a state decision and that we can still implement such a policy in ways that will make the system safer and secure for all Americans.”