Bill passes allowing illegal immigrants to obtain driver’s licenses

Now, the focus will be on the Registry of Motor Vehicles to put the process in place.
Published: Jun. 9, 2022 at 6:47 PM EDT
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SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WGGB/WSHM) - A bill to allow driver’s licenses for illegal immigrants was passed into law at the Massachusetts Statehouse Thursday afternoon.

The State Senate voted to override a veto by Governor Charlie Baker like the house did Wednesday. Now, the focus will be on the Registry of Motor Vehicles to put the process in place.

The State Senate voted 32 to 8 in favor of the override. It will go into effect July 1st of next year. However, the big question for those opposing the new law is, how will this work?

“This bill will give undocumented members of our communities the same flexibility and options so many of us take for granted,” said State Senator Adam Gomez.

State Senator Adam Gomez was on the State Senate floor in support of the bill allowing undocumented immigrants to obtain a driver’s license in Massachusetts. The bill was vetoed by Governor Charlie Baker, but with successful override votes in the House on Wednesday and Senate on Thursday, the bill now becomes law.

Effective July of 2023, this will be a huge change for those living in the state without legal citizenship.

“Should they be pulled over, the interaction will be drastically different because they will be able to provide identification and insurance,” Senator Gomez said.

Springfield Mayor Domenic Sarno has been opposed to the bill in past years. We caught up with him and found he still has questions about it.

“I still stick to my being a little leery about this,” Mayor Sarno told us. “I’m open to opportunities to do it the correct way on it. You want to make sure the checks and balances are there.”

Western Mass News is getting answers. We talked to Andrea Schmid, the lead organizer of the Pioneer Valley Workers Center. She has been fighting for passage of this legislation for four years. She addressed some of the questions surrounding how undocumented immigrants will be able to walk into the Registry of Motor Vehicles for a driver’s license.

“The idea is that if they present valid documentation that is like a passport or, you know, just a valid document that they have, it could be a country of origin or not,” Schmid said.

She told us that there are standards for acceptable documentation.

“It’s just not any kind of documentation,” Schmid said, “but yeah, very specific kinds they have to present.”

She also told us that proof of driving skills will also be required before getting a license.

“I mean, they have to go through the same protocols any other person has to go through,” Schmid said. “In terms of having to take a driving exam and things like that.”

Massachusetts now becomes the 17th state in the country to allow driver’s licenses for this population.