Illegal alien residents of Massachusetts have won their long-waged bid for driver’s licenses from the Bay State.
On June 9, the Senate followed a vote by the House two days earlier to override Gov. Charlie Baker’s recent veto of a bill to issue driver’s licenses to illegal aliens.
The Massachusetts law, entitled the Work and Family Mobility Act, will go into effect July 1, 2023. Under it, illegal aliens living in Massachusetts will still have to pass both a written and road test before obtaining a license.
Baker, a Republican, said in a press statement that he opposed the measure out of concern that it could potentially lead to noncitizens registering to vote.
In a statement explaining his veto, Baker also said he was concerned with tasking the state’s registry of motor vehicle workers with the job of deciphering foreign documents and their authenticity.
“The RMV does not have the expertise or ability to verify the validity of many types of documents from other countries,” Baker said.
Five Senate Democrats joined the three Senate Republicans who voted against the override. Sen. Bruce Tarr, one of the Republicans to vote against it, said he sees giving illegal residents driver’s licenses as a message that not only is it okay to come to America and break the law, but that anyone who does so will be rewarded for doing so.
But the concerns were not enough to even remotely thwart the Democrat-nominated Massachusetts Legislature. The House voted 119-36 and the Senate 32-8 to override Baker.
The measure garnered the backing of the Massachusetts Major City Chiefs of Police and a majority of the state’s sheriffs and district attorneys. They and the bill’s supporters hail the move to give illegal citizens driver’s licenses a move towards making roadways safer throughout America.
Massachussets state Sen. John Keenan, a Democrat, said he is hoping as more states grant driver’s license to their “undocumented residents” that it will lead to nationwide movement.
There are already 16 states that issue driver’s licenses to illegal aliens: California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Marland, New Mexico, Nevada, New York, New Jersey, Oregon, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, and Washington.
The passage of the bill is historic even for a liberal state like Massachusetts.
For 15 years, immigration advocates unsuccessfully pushed Massachusetts to issue driver’s licenses to illegal aliens. In the course of the last year, the residents themselves have held large, bold protests demanding driver’s licenses, many holding signs outside of the statehouse bearing messages written in a foreign language.
Last year, at a protest outside of the state capital in Boston, Yamila Ruiz, a native and legal resident of Argentina, spoke about the trauma she experienced when she was 12 of watching her father being arrested for driving without a valid U.S. license.
“We had to live through the agonizing fear he was going to be deported and that we would never see him again,” said Ruiz.
There are an estimated 200,000 illegal immigrants currently living in Massachusetts.
In February, 19 mayors from around the state including Boston Mayor Michelle Wu signed a letter endorsing licenses for what the letter referred to as undocumented workers.
“All Boston and Massachusetts adults deserve access to driver’s licenses regardless of immigration status,” the mayors said in a joint statement. “I support the Family Mobility Act because it will make all of us safer.”