BOSTON– After a historic vote in the House of Representatives in February and state Senate in early May, the Work and Family Mobility Act was just voted for final passage in the House and Senate. The bill, filed by Representative Christine Barber of Somerville and Medford, with Rep. Tricia Farley-Bouvier and Senators Brendan Crighton and Adam Gomez, enables all state residents to apply for a standard Massachusetts driver’s license regardless of immigration status.
The passage of the bill comes after a decades-long push from advocates, legislators and the Driving Families Forward Coalition to get this common sense legislation 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, Vermont and New York.
“I am incredibly proud of the tremendous work of my partners on this bill – legislators, advocates, and the Driving Families Forward Coalition,” said Representative Christine Barber (D–Somerville and Medford). “Three years ago, Natalicia Tracy of the Brazilian Workers Center and Ben Echevarria of the Welcome Project shared with me the plight of parents who were detained due to driving without a license, and the fear that prospect brought to the entire local immigrant community. They asked me to take a leadership role on this bill, and I am so honored to have partnered with them to get this bill passed. “
From the beginning, the movement to expand access to driver’s licenses has been immigrant led and built from the grassroots. Advocacy efforts led by the Driving Family Forward Coalition were based in local immigrant communities and organizations, such as the Brazilian Worker Center and the Welcome Project, along with labor unions statewide. Over the past several years, the Coalition and bill sponsors worked closely together to build a broad range of support – including state and municipal leaders, law enforcement officials, interfaith leaders, local businesses and labor unions, and health care organizations and providers.
The Work and Family Mobility Act will 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 also to ensure all residents feel safe and can access basic needs like groceries and health care,” said Representative Christine Barber. “This has been a multi-year long fight for immigrant justice. This bill will have an immediate impact on the lives and success of immigrant families in our state.”
The bill passed the state House and Senate with a veto-proof majority. It now goes before the Governor.