After New York passed a bill on June 19, 2019, to allow undocumented immigrants to obtain driver’s licenses, New Jersey is up next to vote.
The New Jersey Senate is scheduled to vote on December 16, 2019. If New Jersey passes this bill, it will become the 14th U.S. state to issue driver’s licenses to undocumented immigrants.
The bill was introduced in November 2018. Advocates of the bill have extensively lobbied throughout the state to legislators and around 15,000 petitions were presented to Assembly Speaker Craig Coughlin’s office in Woodbridge, Middlesex County. Assemblywoman Annette Quijano and Assemblyman Raj Mukherji are the primary sponsors of the bill. The few who protest the bill feel that this would encourage or reward undocumented immigrants.
What Is the Bill?
The bill would allow undocumented immigrants to apply and receive driver’s licenses enabling them only to drive. The lawmakers who support the bill call it a public safety measure.
Two kinds of driver’s licenses would be provided under this bill. One involving REAL ID, which would enable immigrants to board domestic flights. To obtain a Real ID, the immigrant must show either a Social Security Number (SSN) or a verification letter that there is no SSN. The standard basic driver’s license would have a distinct color and design which would indicate that it is not to be used for federal or official purposes. Immigrants would have to verify their identity and show proof of residence. The bill also specifies that possession of a standard basic driver’s license may not be considered as evidence of an individual’s citizenship or immigration status.
The bill also indicates that any personal information including photographs and documents obtained for the purpose of the driver’s license is confidential and cannot be considered a government record.
Bill to Bolster Economy Growth to the State
New Jersey is home to 450,000 undocumented immigrants. The bill would boost the economy as immigrants with driver’s licenses would buy automobiles and auto insurance. Erika J. Nava, a policy analyst for the New Jersey Policy Perspective, estimated that if the bill is passed, $21 million in revenue will be generated by allowing driving permits. New drivers would generate $90 million annually from all the registration fees, sales tax, gift tax, and purchases of auto parts and other automobile accessories.
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