Massachusetts State Representative Tricia Farley-Bouvier has recently filed a bill at the Statehouse entitled the Work & Family Mobility Act. This legislation would allow all residents to obtain a Massachusetts Driver’s License which would be valid for 5 years, regardless of the applicant’s immigration status.
This legislation would not allow those not lawfully present to be issued the new “Real ID” compliant driver’s licenses. However, they could be granted regular non-real ID Mass. Driver’s Licenses. This legislation would not be inconsistent with the federal “Real ID” law.
Massachusetts would join other New England states such as Connecticut and Vermont which grant licenses regardless of the customer’s immigration status. Proponents of the Bill believe that immigration enforcement is up to the federal government and state agencies such as the Registry of Motor Vehicles should leave immigration matters up to the federal government.
Currently, the Registry’s policy is that no license of any type may be issued to any person who does not have lawful presence in the United States.” You must have at least an Employment Authorization for a Class D license.
Driving without a valid license is a violation of G.L. c. 90 § 10, which is a criminal offense. It can result in 4-year Habitual Traffic Offender Revocations, insurance surcharges, and other adverse consequences. Anyone who is caught operating a motor vehicle without a license can be arrested and prosecuted. Many desperate individuals risk arrest and prosecution because they need to be able to drive to get to work and support themselves and their families. This Bill would give them a chance to drive legally.
Opponents of the bill claim that it would make Massachusetts a prime target for fraud. Governor Baker stated that he would veto the Bill. He believes that anyone who is granted a Massachusetts Driver’s License must prove that they are lawfully present in the country. The Massachusetts Chiefs of Police Association, which represents police chiefs in the 351 cities and towns in Massachusetts has not yet taken a position on the proposed legislation.
Over 100 Massachusetts lawmakers have come out in support of legislation that would not condition the issuance of a driver’s license on proof of lawful presence. It would prevent the Registry of Motor Vehicles from demanding proof of the license applicant’s lawful presence in the United States.
There are many undocumented individuals who are currently unable to resolve their Complaint Fraud Lic / ID cases at the Registry’s Enforcement Services Unit because the RMV requires proof of lawful presence and these unfortunate individuals cannot provide it. Hopefully, this legislation will resolve that issue.