June 19, 2019– Mary Greeley News – This week, New York lawmakers did what some of their New Jersey counterparts have been trying to do for more than a decade: They passed a law making undocumented immigrants eligible for driver’s licenses.
New York became the 13th state to allow undocumented immigrants to take a driver’s test, after nearly two decades of lobbying by immigrant advocates. Delaware, Maryland, and the District of Columbia are among the places that do the same.
Undocumented immigrants in other states often either drive without licenses — and car insurance — or find other means of transportation. An estimated nearly half-million undocumented immigrants in New Jersey are of driving age, according to liberal think-tank New Jersey Policy Perspective.
Gov. Phil Murphy and Senate President Stephen Sweeney (D., Gloucester) have said they support the effort in New Jersey. With the Democrats’ control of state government, immigrant advocates have said they are hopeful about the chances of passing a law like New York’s. But New Jersey’s bills have been stuck in committees since lawmakers introduced them in December.
Advocates such as Sara Cullinane, director and co-founder of Make the Road New Jersey, an immigrant advocacy organization, hope to use momentum from efforts in New York to propel forward New Jersey’s bills.
“The vote in New York is a historic victory for immigrant rights” and “welcome news,” in New Jersey, Cullinane said.
She said the issue is the No. 1 priority for her members. “It’s an issue that gets them up out of bed at 6 in the morning to lobby in Trenton,” she said. “It keeps them up at night worrying if they’ll be detained for dropping their kids off at school or taking them to a doctor’s appointment.”
Opponents in New York and New Jersey oppose extending driving privileges to people who are living in the country illegally. And while acknowledging “not every person in the country illegally is a security threat,” Republican state lawmakers who represent parts of Burlington, Atlantic, and Ocean Counties have said homeland security is at stake. They said “outraged” constituents have complained to them.
New Jersey legislation would create two tiers of driver’s licenses and identification cards — REAL ID-compliant cards and standard cards. Standard cards would not require proof of legal residency.
The legislation would not allow undocumented immigrants to use driver’s licenses to receive state services or to register to vote, since they are not citizens.
In April, Philadelphia began offering municipal identification cards to all residents — including undocumented immigrants.
credit: In part with https://www.inquirer.com/news/immigrants-drivers-license-real-id-new-jersey-new-york-20190619.html