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Collins seeing red over New York's Green Light law

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Rep. Chris Collins has introduced legislation that withholds federal highway funds from any state that grants driver licenses or ID cards to undocumented immigrants. The proposal comes following passage of New York's Green Light bill last month. Collins is calling his legislation The Red Light Act.

“It’s no different than when the federal government said, ‘If you don’t lower you blood alcohol level for drunk driving, we will deny you federal funds.’ Almost overnight every state lowered their blood alcohol level. Same thing with speed limits a few decades ago," the Clarence Republican told WBFO.

"I have absolutely zero concern that if this gets enacted that the governor and our state senators and assembly would [not] immediately reverse their action.”

Collins said New York receives $1.3 billion in federal highway funds. Those funds "literally pave our roads," he said. "Fix pot holes and pave our roads."

The congressman further explained his proposal in a prepared statement: "Governor Cuomo should be enforcing laws that protect Americans instead of supporting those who break our laws." He said the Green Light law will result in more dangerous roads from people who might drive uninsured and unregistered vehicles.

If enacted, Collins' law would withhold highway funds starting in fiscal year 2020 and each fiscal year thereafter. Those funds would be appropriated to other states.

"Cuomo has threatened the lives of New Yorkers who are legal U.S. citizens with this legislation,” Collins said. "If he wants to help illegal immigrants avoid the law while threatening highway safety, he can pay for it.”

The Green Light law is being challenged in court locally. Last week, Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz directed the county attorney to file a federal complaint on behalf of county clerk Mickey Kearns to determine the bill's constitutionality.

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Kyle Mackie is a multimedia journalist with reporting experience in Israel and the Palestinian territories, the Western Balkans and New York City. She joined WBFO to cover education and more in June 2019.