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Know Your Rights
Source: Newsday
Subject: Immigration
Type: Media Coverage

NY DMV hires 320, expands office hours to reduce long lines

The New York State Department of Motor Vehicles is hiring scores of new staff, expanding office hours, opening on Saturdays and even shipping workers from its headquarters in Albany to Long Island to help reduce long lines created by a new law making driver’s licenses available to immigrants living in the country illegally.

The department has hired a total of 320 new employees, including some in preparation for the program, and is continuing to recruit more staff, including through a job fair it held this week in Massapequa, said DMV spokeswoman Lisa Koumjian.

“We’ve seen a big impact already,” she said. “We truly are doing everything we possibly can. … We understand nobody wants to be standing outside in the cold for hours.”

Advocates gave mixed reviews, with some seeing improvements in some offices while long lines persisted in others.

Since the so-called Green Light Law went into effect Dec. 16, DMV offices on Long Island and elsewhere have been overwhelmed with crowds of immigrants seeking driver’s licenses. Some arrive as early as 4 a.m.

Some DMV offices have shut down the lines by noon, telling new arrivals the office would not be able to accommodate them that day, and to go home and make an appointment.

“The crowds we are seeing are truly unprecedented,” Koumjian said. The DMV is now handling about triple the number of applications it typically does this time of year, she added.

The long waits have impacted not just immigrants.