Driver’s licenses one privilege sought for Massachusetts’ illegal immigrants

| 11/19/2009

On Tuesday, Nov. 17, Gov. Deval Patrick released a list of recommendations for integrating immigrants – both documented and undocumented – into economic and civic life in Massachusetts. One of the most controversial proposals on the list is offering illegal immigrants the opportunity to get a driver’s license.

Jennifer Kritz, a spokeswoman for the Massachusetts Executive Office of Health and Human Services, told Land Line that the report includes only a general description of driver’s licenses.

“There is no discussion of types of licenses, including commercial,” Kritz said.

From Patrick’s Advisory Council for Refugees and Immigrants, the report includes 131 recommendations in the “New Americans Agenda.”

Immigrants compose 14 percent of the population in Massachusetts, the majority of whom are in the state legally.

Allowing illegal immigrants to obtain driver’s licenses will be no easy task. Granting them the right to drive would require the repeal of the federal Real ID Act, the report said. The federal act lays out qualifications that each state must meet to have its driver’s license recognized as a valid federal identification document.

Advocates say that having all drivers licensed and insured is in the interest of public safety.

The list of recommendations will be sent to Patrick’s cabinet for an action plan. How many of the 131 recommendations the governor will embrace is unknown.

To view other legislative activities of interest for Massachusetts in 2009, click here.

– By Keith Goble, state legislative editor

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