By Bob Katzen
The Transportation Committee approved and sent to the full Senate a bill that strikes down the current law that prohibits anyone who is not legally in the United States from being issued a Massachusetts driver’s license. The bill is sponsored by Sen. Brendan Crighton (D-Lynn). It says that people who are unable to provide proof of lawful presence, or who are ineligible for a social security number, may apply for a Massachusetts license if they meet all other qualifications for licensure and provide satisfactory proof to the registrar of identity, date of birth and Massachusetts residency.
“Most of these folks are people who have lived here for a really long time,” said House co-sponsor Rep. Christine Barber (D-Somerville). “They’re members of our community. They need to drive to either get to work, take their kid to a doctor. They probably are driving anyway and we’d rather have people have insurance, have passed a driver’s test, pass a vision test and actually have a license when they get pulled over, than have them driving and not be insured.” The other House sponsor is Rep. Patricia Farley-Bouvier (D-Pittsfield).“We in the immigrant and labor communities are grateful for this victory, and for the progress we have made in moving toward finally achieving this right,” said Roxana Rivera, vice president of 32BJ SEIU and Natalicia Tracy, executive director of the Brazilian Worker Center. “We’ve come closer to this goal then we have ever been before in Massachusetts. Our sincere hope is that together, we – elected officials, labor, and impacted communities – will continue to negotiate the necessary modifications that will benefit the most affected immigrants.Gov. Charlie Baker opposes the bill. “I’ve said for many years that I think it’s really hard to build the kind of safeguards into that kind of process that would create the kind of security that would be hard to live up to some of the federal and state standards with respect to security and identification,” said Baker last week, “And for those reasons, I don’t support that legislation.”