(BOSTON – 04/28/2022) The Massachusetts State Senate announced plans today 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. Senator Cindy F. Friedman was present alongside her colleagues at a press conference announcing the plans for the legislation.
“The law enforcement community, advocacy groups and immigrants across the Commonwealth have made it clear that allowing those who lack federal immigration status to drive will make our roads safer and will make our communities more welcoming to immigrant families, many of whom have children who are United States citizens,” said Senator Friedman, Vice Chair of the Senate Committee on Ways and Means. “This bill is long overdue – there are several compelling moral and public safety arguments for moving this legislation forward, and it’s beyond due time that we act on this. I look forward to supporting this legislation in the Senate next week.”
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.
“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.