NEW YORK, NY – Polling released today shows that support for extending driver’s licenses to undocumented New Yorkers rises dramatically after respondents are provided basic education about the legislation and the process required to earn a license. Specifically, when voters understand that undocumented immigrants must go through a process and meet the same requirements for a driver’s license as anyone else in the State, opposition to driver’s licenses drops dramatically to under 40%.

“This poll makes it clear that when voters are provided basic education on the process and examination required by New York for undocumented immigrants to earn a license, support grows dramatically. Put simply: if you explain what this proposal actually would do–where undocumented immigrants have to pass the same criteria and meet the same qualifications as everyone else–this is popular, and if you wrongly describe this as just something given to people, it is less so,” said New York State Immigration Manager Eddie A. Taveras. “As elected officials head into budget negotiations, they should stand up and support this common-sense legislation that will make New York’s highways safer, keep families together and drive economic growth across key sectors.”

Large majorities of Democrats, Independents, upstate voters and Long Island voters support the driver’s license proposal after reading about the requirements to earn a license, including taking driver education and passing a road test. There is overwhelming bipartisan support for New York lawmakers to pass a package of laws, including the state DREAM Act and the driver’s license bill, in order to protect undocumented immigrants from the Trump Administration.

A memo on the survey results is available here.

Key survey findings include:

  • Support is split on this issue, but opposition is not deep. Voters are mixed when initially asked if they support “allowing undocumented immigrants to obtain New York State driver’s licenses” (47% support/53% oppose), but only 29% of voters strongly oppose it. Further, opposition drops dramatically to under 40% with basic education about the proposal (more on that below).


  • Support for the issue rises dramatically with just a bit of basic education – specifically, that undocumented immigrants must meet the same requirements for a driver’s license as anyone else in New York. Over three in five voters come to support the proposal (63% support/37% oppose) after they read neutral language about the requirements individuals would need to meet to obtain a license – for example, that they would have to pass a road test and provide proof of state residence.


  • That undocumented immigrants must take driver education and pass a road test is the most compelling requirement that helps alleviate concerns and increase support. When asked to choose which of the requirements and conditions is most important, a plurality of voters (39%) choose that “recipients would need to take a pre-licensing or driver education course and pass a road test.”


  • Support for the proposal extends across key partisan and geographic lines after voters learn about the criteria. After reading about the requirements and conditions of the proposal, majorities of Democrats (78%, including 84% of liberal Democrats), registered independents (55%), upstate voters (53%), and Long Island voters (52%) all support it.


  • Voters broadly support the drivers’ license proposal when packaged as part of a group of new laws in response to President Trump’s unpopular immigration agenda. A strong majority of voters (59% support/41% oppose) support passing a package of laws, including the state DREAM Act and the driver’s license bill, in order to protect undocumented immigrants from the Trump administration. The President is deeply unpopular in the state (68% unfavorable), as is his border wall policy (61% oppose), and voters want state government to act as a check and balance on the administration (78% say it is important for New York State to do so).

About this poll:
Global Strategy Group conducted an online survey of 815 registered voters in New York State from January 19th to January 23rd, 2019. Care has been taken to ensure that the geographic and demographic characteristics of the statewide electorate are properly represented.