BOSTON– After a historic vote in the House of Representatives in February and state Senate in early May, the state legislature voted this week to override the Governor’s veto of the Work and Family Mobility Act (WFMA), and it is now state law. 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.
Governor Baker vetoed the bill when it came across his desk on May 27th, although the Work and Family Mobility Act has received broad support in the legislature, from members of law enforcement, local faith and business leaders, as well as from immigrant communities statewide. House and Senate members voted to override his veto, 119 – 36 in the House and 32 – 8 in the Senate. The bill is now law.
Massachusetts now joins 16 other states who have expanded access to driver’s licenses to immigrants without status, including Connecticut, Vermont and New York. The bill allows 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.
“I am incredibly proud of the tremendous work of my partners on this bill – legislators, advocates, and the Driving Families Forward Coalition in garnering enough support to override Governor Baker’s veto and get this common sense legislation passed,” said Representative Christine Barber (D–Somerville and Medford). “This has been a multi-year long fight for immigrant justice. This bill will improve road safety, and will have a direct impact on the lives and success of immigrant families in our state.”
The movement to expand access to driver’s licenses has long been immigrant-led– motivated by 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. Bill advocacy efforts, led by the Driving Family Forward Coalition, were coordinated alongside local immigrant communities and organizations, such as the Brazilian Worker Center and the Welcome Project, along with labor unions statewide. Advocates say passage of the WFMA will help to reduce fear among immigrant communities, build trust, and promote safety for everyone.
The bill is now state law.