MAPC Endorses Work and Family Mobility Act
On Wednesday, Feb. 12, the MAPC Executive and Legislative Committees voted to endorse An Act relative to work and family mobility (S.2061/H.3012). Filed by Senator Brendan Crighton (Lynn) and Representatives Tricia Farley-Bouvier (Pittsfield) and Christine Barber (Somerville), the legislation would allow Massachusetts to issue state identification to any applicant regardless of immigration status, as long as they provide valid proof of identity, date of birth, and Massachusetts residency.
Almost 185,000 undocumented immigrants live in Massachusetts and are part of the fabric of our communities. They live in our neighborhoods, serve in our military, attend our schools, work in our offices, and shop at our local restaurants and businesses. Both documented and undocumented immigrants enroll in school, pay taxes, buy goods, and hold critical jobs that add to our economy.
Many everyday tasks require some form of identification: picking up medication at a pharmacy, attending a doctor’s appointment, taking a standardized exam, and making a bank transaction, to name a few. And a driver’s license is required anytime someone is operating a motor vehicle.
At the federal level, the Trump Administration has enacted numerous policies that make it more difficult for immigrants to enter into and to remain in the United States, even by lawful means. The Administration has increased immigration filing fees and has proposed changes that would limit HUD assistance. The Administration has also tried to terminate several important immigration programs including DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) and TPS (Temporary Protected Status). Immigrants that are eligible under these programs can currently demonstrate lawful presence and are therefore able to receive state identification and licenses. If these programs are terminated, these populations would become yet another group of immigrants who are unable to obtain lawful state documentation.
Passing this bill will likely have positive economic, budgetary, and public safety impacts. According to MassBudget’s 2019 Report, Sharing the Road: Licensing all drivers, regardless of immigration status, boosts safety and the economy, Massachusetts could see new revenue of $6 million in the first three years of implementation by allowing access to licenses for all drivers. Increasing the number of individuals with a valid driver’s license would also improve insurance rates, since most insurance carriers require a license before they will insure a driver. In Connecticut, which already issues drivers’ licenses to undocumented immigrants, has seen a nine percent decrease in hit and run incidents, and reports that over 50,000 undocumented immigrants have taken all the road tests associated with obtaining a driver’s license.
Bill advocates are working with legislators to clarify the exact documents that would be accepted by the RMV. Many other states accept foreign passports and consular cards as part of the documentation required to obtain a state issued identification or driver’s license. Like U.S. identification, many of these foreign-issued documents have strong security features and are difficult to fake.
Other supporters of the legislation include Boston Mayor Martin Walsh, Lawrence Mayor Dan Rivera, Somerville Mayor Joe Curtatone, Massachusetts Major City Chiefs of Police Association, ACLU, Alliance for Business Leadership, Boston Bar Foundation, Brazilian Worker Center, Chelsea Collaborative, Eastern Bank, Jewish Alliance for Law and Social Action, Lawyers for Civil Rights, Massachusetts AFL-CIO, Massachusetts Immigrant Refugee Advocacy Coalition, Salem Chamber of Commerce, and SEIU 32BJ.
MAPC believes that ensuring our communities remain welcoming to all residents, regardless of where they come from or the circumstances of their arrival, is important to the long-term economic and social well-being of Greater Boston and the entire Commonwealth.