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Rensselaer County challenge to immigrant driver’s license law put on hold

ALBANY — A federal judge in Albany has issued an order that will temporarily pause Rensselaer County Clerk Frank Merola’s effort to block a state law allowing undocumented immigrants to apply for driver’s licenses.

The order issued this week by U.S District Senior Judge Gary L. Sharpe will stay the case until a similar federal complaint — filed about two weeks earlier in Erie County and scheduled for oral arguments later this month — is resolved. The law is scheduled to take effect in December, with state officials estimating 265,000 undocumented immigrants will apply for licenses in the coming years.

Merola and Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo, the defendant in the Albany case, were directed by Sharpe to provide an update on Nov. 1 if the Buffalo case has not been resolved. If action is needed on Merola’s lawsuit, Sharpe ruled that it will be heard in U.S. District Court in Albany, denying a request from Cuomo’s attorneys that the case be consolidated with the earlier case in the New York’s Western District.

“We are looking forward to our day in court,” Merola said in a statement.

Merola, a Republican, contends the state law, which was pushed through by Democratic lawmakers, …read more

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