Advocates have long pushed for driver’s licenses for undocumented immigrants and that may become a reality in Massachusetts.
Democratic Rep. Tricia Farley-Bouvier and Democratic Sen. Patricia Jehlen have submitted a bill to the Joint Committee on Transportation that would allow the state to give driver’s licenses to undocumented immigrants, WWLP reported.
“They’re looking to be able to get insured, they want to be able to attend driving school and things like that and so, it’s acknowledging the fact that a lot of folks are here illegally, and are part of our Commonwealth, but to try and do it in a thoughtful way,” Democratic State Rep.Michael Finn, who is on the Joint Committee on Transportation, said. He has not taken an official stance on the issue.
Several other states have similar laws on record and supporters believe it improves public safety by allowing undocumented immigrants to obtain insurance and driving lessons. So far, 50 legislators have supported the bill, but the fight has been going on for some time.
Franklin Soults, a spokesman for the Massachusetts Immigrant and Refugee Advocacy Coalition, told MassLive in May 2015 that undocumented immigrants need licenses and car insurance to get even basic tasks done, like taking their children to the doctor or obtaining groceries.
"It's safer for everyone if licenses are available to everyone, and there not be this extraneous check (of immigration status)," Soults said.
Despite the support, this could be an uphill battle. Republican Gov. Charlie Baker has said he doesn’t support giving undocumented immigrants driver’s licenses.
"The Governor remains opposed to changing the laws which prevent the commonwealth from issuing drivers' license to undocumented immigrants and expects the new leadership at the RMV [Registry of Motor Vehicles] to ensure applicants meet all the legal requirements for driving,” Baker's spokesman, Billy Pitman, said.