Governor Baker Should Prioritize Safety and Security

Governor Baker Should Prioritize Safety and Security

Joshua DeMontigny, Contributing Writer

Dear Governor Baker,

Currently, some 250,000 Massachusetts residents cannot hold a driver’s license in their own state. Powerful people–such as yourself–have halted a bill that would allow undocumented immigrants to gain the ability to drive in the state legally. The concern surrounding the bill is valid, as you have a priority in mind: security. It is fair to have reservations about giving undocumented immigrants a full license; however, if security is a priority of this state, then it would only make sense to allow undocumented immigrants the ability to obtain a driver’s license, which only serves the purpose of driving with proper training and documentation.

Governor Baker, it seems you stand against the bill because of how daunting it would be to hold up state standards of security and identification. Your concern regarding background checks is understandable, but why are these background checks necessary? If someone receives a proper driver’s education, completes the required number of driving hours, and proves to be a capable driver, then why does their background matter?

Your apprehension could originate from the idea that these licenses would grant undocumented immigrants full access to U.S. citizen benefits. Not too long ago, our neighbor, the state of Connecticut, passed a bill that allowed undocumented immigrants the ability to receive a driver’s license, which is “not valid for federal identification.” 

In Massachusetts, the only benefit undocumented residents would gain is the ability to legally drive–the residents using these licenses would not receive other benefits. Your discretion toward the bill at first glance is understandable, but have you considered alternative forms of licensing? 

If undocumented immigrants are allowed to drive legally, economic security would increase statewide. As the coronavirus hit this past year, essential workers became just that–essential. A study from the Center for American Progress recently found that “3 in 4” undocumented immigrants are “essential workers.” Currently, Massachusetts–and the nation as a whole–is in the midst of an economic recovery. Doesn’t it make sense to give our workforce–especially our “essential” workforce–greater access to their jobs?

When work mobilization increases, economic prosperity follows suit. As the Catholic Legal Immigration Network points out, allowing undocumented immigrants the right to drive could further stimulate the economy. This rings especially true during a pandemic that has cost tens of thousands of their jobs. The state could certainly use some economic security during this pandemic, which is what allowing undocumented immigrants to legally drive would do.

Granting undocumented immigrants the right to hold a driver’s license would also increase the safety and security of the Commonwealth. So far, sixteen states and the District of Columbia have allowed undocumented immigrants to be licensed. In California, a study found that hit-and-runs fell between 7 and 10 percent after the bill was passed. Passing this bill would allow undocumented immigrants to receive proper education regarding driving in Massachusetts. Would this threaten our citizens’ health or security? No, it would not. 

Governor Baker, in the interest of safety and security, I implore you to consider the benefits of passing legislation that would allow undocumented immigrants the ability to drive legally in the state of Massachusetts.