A CAMPAIGN UNDERWAY TO REPEAL THE NEW LAW ALLOWING DRIVER’S LICENSE FOR UNDOCUMENTED/ILLEGAL IMMIGRANTS

By Bob Katzen

It looks like the new law that would allow, starting July 1, 2023, undocumented/illegal immigrants to apply for a Massachusetts standard driver’s license is going to be on the November ballot for voters to decide whether to repeal it or leave it intact.

The law would require an applicant for a driver’s license “without legal presence” in the United States to provide the Registry of Motor Vehicles (RMV) with a foreign passport and at least one of five other documents: a driver’s license from another state, a foreign driver’s license, a birth certificate, a foreign national identification card or a marriage certificate or divorce decree from any U.S. state. The bill became law when the House and Senate on June 9 overrode Gov. Charlie Baker’s veto of the bill.

Leaders of the repeal campaign, dubbed “Fair and Secure Massachusetts,” say they collected and filed more than 100,000 signatures with local city and town clerks by the August 14 deadline. Only 40,120 signatures are needed for the ballot question to appear on the November ballot. The next and final step to appear on the ballot is to file the certified signatures with the secretary of state’s office by September 7.

Maureen Maloney, whose son Matthew Denice was killed by a drunk driver who did not have legal status in the United States, is the chair of the campaign. She that said that Massachusetts roads “will be much more unsafe” if the law takes effect. “Voters lined up to sign our petition, they voiced to us their reasons for opposing the law,” Maloney said

Maloney also noted that she witnessed firsthand harassment by supporters of the law to prevent volunteers from collecting signatures. “They intimidated voters, and often they caused enough of a disruption to prompt police to shut down our signature drives,” Maloney said. “These actions show how desperate Democrats are to keep voters from having their voices heard, and it was only through the dedication and efforts by all our volunteers that we will get this on the ballot in November.”

“The [law] keeps people safer by ensuring that all drivers, regardless of immigration status, know and follow the rules of the road, take the same driver’s test and have insurance when they need it,” said Elizabeth Sweet, Executive Director of the Massachusetts Immigrant and Refugee Advocacy Coalition (MIRA) which supports the law. “If this issue makes it to the fall ballot, our united coalition—which includes police chiefs, district attorneys and more—will promote keeping this smart, common sense, humane policy on the books.”

“This repeal is an opportunity for voters to decide if this law is right for Massachusetts,” said Sen. Ryan Fattman (R-Sutton) who voted against the bill in the Senate. “As one of the ten original signers of this [repeal] petition, I collected several thousand signatures to bring this law before the people so they can consider the ramifications of this license law. It opens the door to non-citizen voting and creates public safety and security issues through the identity verification of foreign documents that are not generally accepted in litigious societies, both reasons enumerated when Gov. Baker vetoed the original law. I believe and trust that the voters will make the correct call in November.”

“Although we are disappointed that this unnecessary and divisive repeal question appears to be moving forward, we are also more determined than ever to defend the expansion of permission to apply for a driver’s licenses to all qualified state residents, regardless of immigration status,” said “Driving Families Forward” leaders Lenita Reason and Roxana Rivera in a joint statement. “The bill’s overwhelming passage proves that Massachusetts has changed and we can all work together. It passed so that all parties in an accident can have insurance, so that police can easily know a driver’s identity [and] so that immigrants can take their children to doctor’s appointments without fear.”

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