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  • Paterson Council backs immigrants

    PATERSON — The City Council has given its support to a proposal for New Jersey to issue driver’s licenses to immigrants who are living in the country without authorization.

    Mayor Joey Torres also backs the plan, and the city councils in the state’s two largest cities — Newark and Jersey City — also have endorsed it. But Governor Christie has said repeatedly that for security reasons, he would veto a bill pending in the Legislature that would allow undocumented immigrants to get driver’s licenses.

    The Paterson Council on Tuesday night voted 6-1, with two abstentions, to support the measure.

    “They are good residents; they just don’t have any status,” said Councilman Mohammed Akhtaruzzaman as he voted in favor of the resolution.

    Council President William McKoy cast the only vote against the measure. “I value the sentiments behind this, but fundamentally it doesn’t make any sense to me,” McKoy said.

    Councilmen Michael Jackson and Ken Morris abstained.

    The resolution has no formal power but simply registers the council’s position on a widely debated issue. The mayor has said he thought it was particularly important for Paterson to back the proposal because of the city’s large immigrant population.

    Supporters argue that immigrants who lack residency documents will drive regardless and do so without insurance, exposing other motorists to increased liability. Opponents maintain that issuing driver’s licenses to people who came to the country illegally will compromise national security.

    About 10 other states provide driver’s licenses to undocumented immigrants, including Connecticut, Delaware and Maryland, according to the National Immigration Law Center.

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