By Bob Katzen
The fourth question on the November ballot asks voters if they support a law, approved by the Legislature, which will allow, starting July 1, 2023, undocumented/illegal immigrants to apply for a Massachusetts standard driver’s license.
The legislation requires an applicant “without legal presence” in the United States to provide the Registry of Motor Vehicles (RMV) with a foreign passport and at least one of six 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 House and Senate approved the bill on May 26, 2022, but Gov. Charlie Baker vetoed it the next day on May 27. A few days later the House 119-36, Senate 32-8, voted to override the governor’s veto and the bill was all set to take effect in July 2023. But opponents of the law stepped in and gathered sufficient signatures to put the question on the November ballot so voters could decide its fate. If voters approve the proposal, it will become law on July 1, 2023. If voters reject the proposal, it will essentially be repealed and will not take effect at all.
“I cannot sign this legislation because it requires the Registry of Motor Vehicles to issue state credentials to people without the ability to verify their identity,” Baker had
said in his veto message back in May 2022. “The Registry does not have the expertise or ability to verify the validity of many types of documents from other countries. The bill also fails to include any measures to distinguish standard Massachusetts driver’s licenses issued to persons who demonstrate lawful presence from those who don’t.”
“I strongly support voting Yes on Question 4 this November election to preserve the Work and Family Mobility Act and improve road safety for all Massachusetts drivers,” said one of the bill’s original sponsors Rep. Christine Barber (D-Somerville). “Endorsed by the Massachusetts Major Cities Chiefs of Police and the majority of Massachusetts sheriffs and district attorneys, ‘Yes on 4’ has overwhelming support from law enforcement. We continue to build support, as people understand our roads are safer with more licensed and insured drivers.”
“This law tasks RMV employees with reviewing hundreds of new foreign documents, in hundreds of different languages and formats, without any additional training or safeguards,” said Sen. John Velis (D-Westfield). “That has very real security implications for our commonwealth, especially when you consider our RMV’s history of problematic issues. That is why I voted against this law twice in the Senate and will vote No on Question 4 as well.”
“A Yes on 4 means that we uphold the Work and Family Mobility Act, passed by a three quarters margin of the legislature which requires all drivers in Massachusetts to be trained, licensed and insured,” said Sen. Tricia Farley Bouvier (D-Pittsfield), one of the original sponsors of the measure. “I join a broad coalition of faith communities, business people and unions who believe we are all safer on the roads when we all follow the same rules of the road. Though there has been little time to mount the ‘Yes on 4’ campaign, the coalition that was built over many years has mobilized quickly to educate voters. Our biggest challenge is that most folks don’t know it’s even on the ballot. The media campaign coupled with grassroots canvassing in every corner of the commonwealth is finding great success. We will win. Again.”
“Giving driver’s licenses to illegal immigrants will make our roads much less safe, and as Gov. Baker said, the RMV is not equipped to handle these complex immigration issues,” said Paul Craney, spokesperson for the Massachusetts Fiscal Alliance. “It’s unfair to ask the Massachusetts RMV to do the job that our federal Department of Homeland Security is supposed to be doing. A Massachusetts driver’s license will no longer be able to verify the true identify of that person. This opens the floodgates to all sorts of problems for our state in the near future.”
“I am voting Yes on Question 4 because more licensed and insured drivers will make the roads safer for us all,” said Sen. Brendan Crighton (D-Lynn), one of the sponsors of the original bill. “This common-sense legislation was the culmination of years of collaboration between legislators, community groups and law enforcement. I am confident that when equipped with the facts about what this law does and does not do, Massachusetts residents will vote to uphold the law.”
“This repeal is an opportunity for voters to decide if this law is right for Massachusetts,” said Sen. Ryan Fattman (R-Sutton). “As one of the 10 original signers of this 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.”
FROM THE REDBOOK:
Here’s the official arguments of the supporters and opponents as they appear on the secretary of state’s website. As explained earlier, the question does not appear in the Redbook—distributed by the secretary of state, to households across the state, that provides information to voters on ballot questions. More Information about Question 4 can be found on the secretary of state’s website at https://www.sec.state.ma.us/ele/ele22/information-for-voters-22/quest_4.htm
IN FAVOR OF:
Written by: Franklin Soults
Yes on 4 for Safer Roads
“A Yes vote will keep in place a law that allows all drivers in Massachusetts to be properly vetted for licenses (by providing proof of identity, date of birth, and residency), pass required tests and buy insurance, regardless of immigration status.
A Yes vote means safer roads and better tools for law enforcement to do their jobs. In 17 states with similar laws, passage led to declines in uninsured drivers and hit-and-run crashes. That’s why this measure is endorsed by over 60 law enforcement officials statewide—including most sheriffs, district attorneys, and all 42 police chiefs in the Massachusetts Major Cities Chief of Police Association.
Voting Yes helps families and workers by ensuring they can drive legally to school and work. It makes sense for all of us.
That is what Massachusetts law provides and a Yes vote will keep in place.”
Written by: John Milligan
Fair and Secure Massachusetts
“In his veto message of this bill, Gov. Charlie Baker made it known that the Registry of Motor Vehicles does not have the capability or expertise necessary to verify documents from other countries and notes that, if this bill becomes law, Massachusetts drivers’ licenses will no longer confirm that a person is who they say they are.
Additionally, Gov. Baker states the bill specifically restricts the Registry’s ability to share citizenship information with entities responsible for ensuring only citizens register to vote and vote in our elections, significantly increasing the likelihood that noncitizens will register to vote.
This bill is patently unfair to those who have taken the time to immigrate to our great country via legal means and significantly diminishes the public safety of all residents of the commonwealth. We urge a No vote on this issue.”
HOW YOUR LEGISLATORS VOTED ON THE DRIVER’S LICENSE BILL
Listed below is how your local state representatives and senators voted on the proposed law in June 2022:
(A “Yes” vote is for allowing, starting July 1, 2023, undocumented/illegal immigrants to apply for a Massachusetts standard driver’s license. A “No” vote is against allowing it.)