After a burst of criticism over her selection in May, many Latino elected officials are now standing behind Governor Andrew Cuomo's running mate, Kathy Hochul, but while Hochul's opinions have shifted on gun control, they haven't moved much on immigration issues, which has caused some controversy. NY1's Zack Fink filed the following report.
Kathy Hochul is not backing down from her position that immigrants who are here illegally should be prevented from obtaining driver's licenses. She opposed the plan in 2007, citing national security concerns, and reiterated the point in an interview on Inside City Hall Thursday.
"I'm not sure what's changed in that dynamic," Hochul said.
That's a tall order for some Latino officials, who were told Hochul's views would evolve much like they have on gun control. Once a strong Second Amendment supporter, Hochul now says she favors tougher gun laws.
Last week, Latino officials sat down with Hochul in the Bronx, and at least one of them said the meeting did not go well.
"She came, but she didn't really respond to any direct questions," said state Senator Ruben Diaz Sr. "As a matter of fact, I got angry."
Diaz said he got upset over Hochul's failure to take a strong stand for farm workers' rights in Western New York. In her interview, Hochul said she believes there is a lot to be done on that issue.
Others weighed in on last week's meeting.
"I think it was a first step," said state Senator Jose Peralta of Queens. "Look, could it have gone better? Yeah."
Peralta is sponsoring a bill that would provide driver's licenses for undocumented immigrants. He said changes have been made in the bill.
"She will realize that all her concerns and all her issues have been eliminated and have been addressed," Peralta said.
The meeting with Hochul was organized by Diaz's son, the Bronx borough president, who has a formal role with the Cuomo campaign.
"Let's keep in mind here that she represented an area in upstate New York, where the issues are different, and so she's getting to know the people downstate," Ruben Diaz Jr. said. "She's certainly getting to know different communities."
"My colleagues, black and Hispanic especially, if they really want to help the community, they have to be less afraid of the governor," Diaz Sr. said.
Latino elected officials said driver's licenses are still a top legislative priority. However, the number one priority is still the Dream Act, which allows undocumented students to tap state resources in order to attend college. That bill failed on the Senate floor this year.