Should Non-Citizens Get a Driver’s License?

By Caroline Colarusso

A deceptively named bill, the Work and Family Mobility Act, is being considered by the Massachusetts legislature. As reported by the State House News Service: “if approved, it would permit all qualified residents, regardless of immigration status, to receive a standard license under the state’s now-two-tiered system.” In sharp contrast to the federal REAL-ID compliant license, the State House News Service further reported: “this legislation fails to require proof of citizenship or residence as well as a Social Security number.” Many believe this could open the door to fraud.

The State House News Service also noted that this legislation: “proposes that an individual’s documents could only be released by subpoena or court order and that licenses could not be the basis for prosecution” which would make questioning asserted citizenship very difficult. Our own Senator Jason Lewis is listed as a co-sponsor of this ill-considered legislation. However, Gov. Charlie Baker in the past has expressed opposition to undocumented immigrants obtaining drivers licenses.

Many believe that this legislation is the first step in allowing non-citizens to gain the ability to vote in elections. Anyone can register to vote on line. At which time you are asked if you are a citizen of the United States but with no requirement to prove citizenship. You are then asked if you are at least 16 years of age. Followed by “do you have an ID issued by the Massachusetts Registry of Motor Vehicles? This is followed by a page which asked all your general information including name, date of birth and you must also include your 9-character RMV ID number (Driver’s License, Learner’s Permit, State ID).

I wonder how many people, if any, after registering to vote are asked to provide proof of citizenship when they vote for the very first time? Massachusetts is one of only 15 states that has no voter identification requirement to begin with. It seems to me that this is a very low threshold for something as important as voting especially considering the efforts underway to issue a government ID to non-citizens. Many believe the end game here is to secure elections to help elect even more progressives to office in already progressive Massachusetts. Giving drivers licenses to non-citizens without regard to the potential threat this represents to the integrity of our elections is one more step towards cheapening the status of American citizenship. This sends the wrong message to the many legal migrants who followed the rules.

Many in our country have been rightfully preoccupied with the possibility of foreigners interfering with our election. Elections have consequences. Those elected leaders then go on to pass laws that affect all of us. So, it’s no wonder that many Americans do not want foreigners impacting outcomes of our elections.

Additionally, certain politicians have proposed lowering the voting age to 16 which has been taken up by nearby Somerville officials. Other communities have recently proposed allowing non-citizens to vote in municipal elections. Recently, in a neighboring community it was reported that some were making an effort to allow nonresidents to serve on town boards and committees. All of these developments should be a great concern to residents who value the importance of citizenship and stability in our governmental institutions.

The views in this column are my own. Office hours will be held the first Friday of June at the Arbors located at 140 Franklin Street from 10 am to 11 am. Stop by for coffee with Caroline. I can be reached by phone at (781)438-5720 or email at ContactCarolineforinfo@gmail.com

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