Senate to Debate Work and Family Mobility Act Next Thursday
The Massachusetts State Senate announced plans today (4/28/22) to debate An Act Relative to Work and Family Mobility at a formal session next Thursday, May 5, 2022. The Work and Family Mobility Act, filed by Senators Brendan Crighton and Adam Gomez, would allow Massachusetts residents who lack federal immigration status to apply for a Massachusetts standard driver's license, the non-REAL ID license.
The bill, which received a favorable report from the Senate Committee on Rules earlier today, has received widespread support from members of the law enforcement community, advocacy groups, and members of the immigrant community. It proposes strict identity documentation criteria, asking for applicants to present two valid, unexpired identity documents. It makes no change to existing law requiring that all driver's license applicants prove that they live in the Commonwealth. The bill advanced by the Senate Committee on Rules is nearly identical to the version that previously passed the House of Representatives earlier this year.
"As the granddaughter of immigrants, I have been a longtime supporter of allowing everyone, regardless of immigration status, to safely get to work and school, access health care, and participate in the lives of their communities, and so I am pleased to see this bill move forward today," stated Senate President Karen E. Spilka (D-Ashland). "All our residents and their families deserve to feel safe, and driver's licenses for qualified individuals is good for our economy, our families, and public safety. I'd like to thank Senators Crighton, Gomez and Lovely for their efforts to push this bill forward."
"I am proud to work with my Senate colleagues to favorably move the Work and Family Mobility Act out of the Senate Committee on Rules today," said State Senator Joan B. Lovely (D-Salem). "This legislation will improve public safety on our roadways and provide accessibility for all Massachusetts residents. Thank you, Senate President Spilka and Senators Crighton and Gomez for your leadership on this bill."
"The Work and Family Mobility Act will make our roads safer and, just as importantly, make the lives of more than 185,000 Massachusetts immigrants without status easier by allowing them to earn a standard driver's license," said State Senator Brendan P. Crighton (D-Lynn). "In the absence of a robust regional public transportation system, it is impossible for many Massachusetts residents to get through their day without the use of a car. No one should fear detention or deportation over essential everyday tasks such as getting to work, school, doctor's appointments and grocery stores. It is time for Massachusetts to join the 16 other states who have passed this common-sense legislation."
"This important piece of legislation, which is long overdue, has received widespread support from law enforcement officials, municipal leaders, and advocacy organizations across our state," said State Senator Adam Gomez (D-Springfield). "These people are our neighbors, our friends, and our fellow community members. It's past time that we provide them with the ability to have reliable and accessible transportation where they don't have to fear deportation or separation from their families. This legislation gives undocumented residents the same opportunities that their documented counterparts may take for granted — the ability to drive freely across our state, find work in another community, drive their kids to school, run errands for their partner — not burdened with the worry that they may have negative interactions with law enforcement. That's what happens when people have access to reliable transportation: they can thrive, serve their communities, and succeed."
"There is a reason so many law enforcement leaders support this legislation, including a majority of my fellow sheriffs," said Middlesex Sheriff Peter J. Koutoujian. "I first spoke in favor of this issue as a state representative over 20 years ago. This bill would not only improve public safety by increasing the number of properly identified and insured motorists; but just as critically it will improve a family's ability to get to medical appointments, to the grocery store, and to their kids' school activities. I commend Senate President Spilka, Senators Brendan Crighton and Adam Gomez, as well as the numerous legislators and advocates who have continued to support this vital issue."
In a formal statement, the leaders of the organizations co-chairing the Driving Families Forward Coalition, Brazilian Worker Center Executive Director Lenita Reason and 32BJ SEIU Executive Vice President Roxana Rivera said, "As co-chairs of the Driving Families Forward Coalition, made up of over 270 endorsers including business associations, labor unions, immigrant advocates, faith groups and many more supporting the Work and Family Mobility Act, we are overjoyed that the bill will be coming before a historic Senate vote. We extend our gratitude to Senate President Spilka, Senator Lovely, Chair of the Senate Committee on Rules and our bill lead sponsors, Senator Crighton, and Senator Gomez for their leadership in promoting everyone's safety in the Commonwealth by moving the bill through the legislative process. This includes law enforcement officials who need to know drivers' identities, Massachusetts motorists who benefit when every driver is tested and insured, and, of course, the diverse immigrant communities across the state who need to access doctor's offices, schools, and jobs. Many immigrants' lives would be transformed by this bill, and everyone in Massachusetts would have safer and more secure roads for it."
The legislation also includes layered protection for driver information, prohibiting the Massachusetts RMV from keeping records of citizenship or immigration status for standard license holders and applicants. Safeguards are also put in place for voting, above and beyond the extensive existing protections, directing the Registry of Motor Vehicles and Secretary of State to establish procedures to ensure that drivers without lawful immigration status are not erroneously registered to vote.
|MA Senate to Debate Work and Family Mobility Act Next Thursday (5/05/22)|