According to the most recent information provided by the National Conference of State Legislators (NCSL), undocumented immigrants are eligible to apply for a driver’s license in 12 different U.S. states. Unfortunately, Massachusetts is not one of these states.
A group of activists is pushing to make a change. As reported by Inequality.org, the Pioneer Valley Workers’ Center is part of a statewide coalition pushing for reforms to the Massachusetts driver’s licensing standards. Here, our Boston, MA immigration attorney explains why all adults should be allowed to apply for a driver’s license, regardless of immigration status.
We are a Car-Based Society: 80 Percent of Workers in Massachusetts Drive to their Job
Perhaps more than any other developed country in the world, the United States is an automobile-based society. As noted by Inequality.org in their report on this issue, nearly eight in 10 Massachusetts workers indicate that they typically drive get to their job. For people who live outside the City of Boston, the percentage is even higher than that. Preventing a person from getting a driver’s license dramatically reduces their economic opportunities and their ability to support themselves, their family, and their community.
Undocumented Immigrants Should Be Able to Drive Without Fear
No one wants to be pulled over. For undocumented immigrants, the fear associated with a traffic stop is exponentially higher. In many cases, that initial stop, and the lack of a driver’s license, will eventually lead to deportation proceedings. Even a simple stop for something like rolling through a stop sign could result in criminal charges for driving without a license, and, subsequently, removal from the United States.
As explained by Andrea Schmid, an organizer who works at the Pioneer Valley Workers’ Center, it is “very easy” for undocumented immigrants to get caught up in the system simply because they lack the ability to get a driver’s license. If you are caught driving without a license in Massachusetts, you could face an arrest and criminal charges. In many cases, this is what triggers deportation.
The Proposal: Pass the Work and Family Mobility Act
Activists and organizers are pushing Massachusetts legislators to support a bill called the Work and Family Mobility Act. Essentially, this law would allow undocumented immigrants in Massachusetts to obtain an ordinary driver’s license — one that is no different than the one that is issued to any other driver in Massachusetts. This would help increase economic opportunities for undocumented immigrants and reduce fear from the Trump Administration’s draconian immigration policies. Notably, similar legislation has already proven to be very effective in other states, including in California, Maryland, Connecticut, and Vermont.
We Support Immigrant Rights in Massachusetts
At the Law Office of Joshua L. Goldstein, PC, we are proud to support immigrant and immigrant rights in Massachusetts. Our top-rated Boston immigration has more than fifteen years of experience handling the full range of immigration law matters. To set up a strictly confidential immigration law consultation, please contact our law firm right away.