A recently introduced bill in the New Jersey senate would allow the state’s nearly half-million illegal aliens of driving age to get a driver’s license, according to NJ.com.
“Offering undocumented immigrants a pathway to a legal drivers’ license would reduce their chances of encountering legal troubles while trying to make a living, while also making the roads safer for all New Jerseyans,” said State Senator Teresa Ruiz (D) in a statement to NJ.
The bill, introduced by a handful of state legislators last week, would create two types of licenses; a “standard license” for undocumented immigrants, and a “REAL ID” license for legal residents. Licenses for illegals would only serve as ID cards and driver’s licenses and would not allow for state services or voting.
“We can’t ignore the reality that undocumented immigrants are on the roads now, going to work, driving their children to school and doing the routine activities that all families do,” said one of the bill’s sponsors, state Sen. Joseph Vitale (D), adding “If they don’t have a driver’s license, don’t have insurance and are driving a vehicle that isn’t registered, it creates a hazard on the road.”
“If you get in an accident with them, the damage may not be covered. This will improve roadway safety, be good for the economy and allow undocumented residents to support themselves and their families.”
New Jersey would join twelve other states which currently allow illegal immigrants to drive; California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Maryland, New Mexico, Nevada, Utah, Vermont, and Washington. The District of Columbia and Puerto Rico have similar laws.
“You don’t have options unless you take two or three buses to get to a job,” said Cecilia, a 50-year-old illegal alien living in Mercer County. “You always feel when you go out of your house, you pray to God the police doesn’t stop you for any reason or you are not involved in any accident.”
The new bill in New Jersey has wide support among Democrats according to the Inquirer, with both Democratic Gov. Phil Murphy and Senate President Steve Sweeny supporting the legislation. Similar bills have appeared in New Jersey legislature over the last dozen or so years, however advocates say they are hopeful of its passage with the Democrat-majority state government.
Early next year, Philadelphia officials plan to begin issuing municipal identification cards, for which all Philadelphia residents — including undocumented immigrants — will be eligible. Cities such as Newark, N.J., New York, and Chicago offer municipal IDs, which city officials say also benefit low-income residents and youth who can’t get state identification.
New Jersey Senate President Pro Tempore M. Teresa Ruiz, a cosponsor of the bill who has also supported past versions, said in a statement that the “countless undocumented immigrants who pay taxes and go to work every day in New Jersey” are “mothers and fathers striving to make a better life for their children and contributing to the economic growth of their communities.” –Philly
State Assemblywoman Annette Quijano – a Union County Democrat and that chamber’s majority leader, is anticipated to sponsor a companion bill over the next few weeks.