Rep. Christine P. Barber recently testified in support of a bill she filed, titled H3012 An Act Relative to Work and Family Mobility.
This bill would allow all qualified drivers, regardless of immigration status, to apply for a standard Massachusetts driver's license. Driving is a key tool of economic mobility and having a driver's license allows people to safely get to work, drive their kids to school and participate in their community.
Current state law lists two license options for all Massachusetts drivers: the standard license and the REAL ID. The standard license can only be used for driving, not for federal identification purposes, such as boarding an airplane. Under this bill, all people would be able to apply for a standard Massachusetts license, regardless of their federal immigration status. Applicants would have to pass standard vision and road tests, submit comprehensive documents about their identity and residency, and purchase auto insurance.
"Separating federal immigration policy from Massachusetts driver's license eligibility is common sense -- our federal immigration system is broken, and it's clear that Washington won't be repairing it anytime soon," Barber said. "Constituents know that the passage of this bill would have an immediate impact on the lives and success of immigrant families in our state."
The Joint Committee on Transportation heard testimony from legislators, law enforcement, impacted individuals and other supporters in a hearing that lasted over six hours. Hundreds of supporters attended, drawing from a broad, diverse and growing coalition including local organizations such as The Welcome Project.
"Allowing immigrants the right to drive is good for the economy and for your pocket," said Ben Echevarria, executive director of The Welcome Project. "The recent MassBudget study shows this bill would add about $6 million to state revenue and would lower individual's annual insurance rates by roughly $20. It's good for our economy and makes our roads safer."
In anticipation of the hearing, Barber also spoke at a Labor Day Rally in support of the bill and at a press conference to release a report from MassBudget that shows the positive impact this bill would have on the Commonwealth.