BOSTON– On February 16, 2022 the Massachusetts House of Representatives voted to pass bill H.4461 the Work and Family Mobility Act, filed by Representative Christine Barber of Somerville and Medford and Representative Tricia Farley-Bouvier of Pittsfield, enabling all state residents to apply for a standard MA driver’s license or identification card regardless of immigration status.
The historic vote comes after a 17 year-long fight from advocates, bill sponsors, and the Driving Families Forward Coalition to get this commonsense bill across the finish line. If enacted, Massachusetts would join 16 other states who have expanded access to driver’s licenses to immigrants without status, including Connecticut and Vermont.
“I am incredibly proud and grateful for the tremendous and persistent work of bill sponsors, advocates, and the Driving Families Forward Coalition, along with leadership from Speaker Mariano and Chairman Straus who were instrumental in the passage of this bill,” said Representative Christine Barber. “This has been a multi-year long fight for immigrant justice. All parents should be able to take their children to the doctor, safely and without fear of being pulled over for driving without a license.”
H.4461 would allow all qualified Massachusetts residents, regardless of immigration status, to apply for standard Massachusetts driver’s licenses using valid documents. Driving is a key tool of economic mobility, and having a driver’s license allows people to safely get to work, drive their kids to school, and participate in their community.
“Passing the Work and Family Mobility Act is one of the most important steps the state can take to improve road safety and ensure all residents feel safe and can access necessary services and health care,” said Representative Christine Barber. “This bill will have an immediate impact on the lives and success of immigrant families in our state.”
This bill will benefit public safety in the Commonwealth by ensuring more drivers on the roads are properly trained, tested, and insured. With more drivers on the road with insurance, this will bring down the cost of auto insurance for all drivers.
COVID-19 increases the urgency for passing this legislation. Without access to driver’s licenses, immigrants without status are at increased risk of contracting the virus while taking public transit or carpooling with others while going to work. A driver’s license would provide all residents, regardless of immigration status, more reliable access to healthcare and health services, including COVID-19 vaccinations and testing. With the health of our whole community at risk, it is essential that everyone has access to medical care.
Being able to navigate your home safely is crucial for wellbeing. This legislation enables all state residents to get from home to work safely and without unnecessary risk or fear.
The bill passed the House of Representatives with a 120 – 36 vote. It now goes to the Senate.