Support for driver’s license bill

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To the Editor:

Martha’s Vineyard Social Justice Leadership Foundation (MVSJLF) wholeheartedly supports HD.448/SD.273, An Act Relative to Work and Family Mobility.

Many undocumented immigrants are driving in Massachusetts without a driver’s license, who aren’t insured or registered. The purpose of HD.448/SD.273 is to enable all qualified Massachusetts residents, regardless of immigration status, to apply for a standard license or identification card while keeping our commonwealth in full compliance with current federal law. Two forms of identification are needed to apply, including at least one with a photograph and one with a date of birth. No one can get a driver’s license without passing a basic driver skills test.

This bill improves public safety for everyone in Massachusetts. It’s about making our communities safer. We believe it is a safer measure to require everyone who is driving on our roads to have to take a test, be knowledgeable of safe driving rules and regulations, and be entered in the appropriate data system. These essential measures may help reduce accidents and the number of unlicensed and uninsured or underinsured drivers in our state.

Issuing licenses to undocumented immigrants will result in more drivers on the road carrying insurance. With more insured drivers on the roads, anyone injured by a licensed immigrant driver will more likely be compensated for their injuries.

Equally important, this bill offers people the opportunity to improve the quality of their lives without regard to legal status. Workers need not be dependent on public transit options, which are limited in most parts of Massachusetts. Parents can take care of daily family needs such as transporting children to school, daycare, and medical appointments without fear of a traffic stop leading to Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) involvement and family separation. 

The bill’s explicit language provides that the information that undocumented immigrants provide to the registrar for a license may not be used against them for purposes of enforcing immigration laws. Many other states and the District of Columbia have approved similar laws.

MVSJLF believes that this proposed legislation is a common-sense approach that promotes both public safety and human dignity. It is a pragmatic way to improve Massachusetts residents’ lives while Congress struggles with immigration reform. We, therefore, urge you to support this bill.

Laurie Perry, president
MVSJLF