For safety and fairness, vote yes on Question 4
Trumped-up opposition is wrong on the facts
OPPONENTS OF DRIVER’S licenses for undocumented immigrants are hammering one message – fear. Yet, every day we all drive safely next to undocumented workers who legally travel to Massachusetts from neighboring states. Vermont, Rhode Island, Connecticut, and New York have all passed laws giving their undocumented residents the ability to pass a driving test and earn a driver’s license.
Sixteen states and the District of Columbia have enacted similar laws. Law enforcement in those jurisdictions, and in Massachusetts, supports these common-sense policies because they ensure that every motorist is qualified to drive, making our roadways safer. States that allow undocumented immigrants to pass a driving test and receive a license have seen significant reductions in hit-and-run accidents, and the number of insured motorists has increased dramatically.
At La Colaborativa in Chelsea, where the vast majority of residents are essential workers, there is no question that the state’s recently-passed driver’s license law should be reaffirmed by the voters. At the height of the pandemic, many of Chelsea’s immigrant residents reported to their shifts in supermarkets, meat packing plants, healthcare facilities, and in industrial laundries. They kept our communities running, and had no choice but to drive to work because public transportation and rideshare options were shut down. Voting in favor of Question 4 is, quite simply, good for all of us.
As long as right-wing Republicans continue to oppose a national agreement on immigration reform, the states will be forced to make commonsense accommodations to allow undocumented essential employees to lead successful daily lives. These same MAGA ideologists in the Massachusetts GOP are behind the effort to repeal the driver’s license bill that was passed overwhelmingly by the Legislature in June.
The immigration status of drivers is an issue for our national immigration policy, not for our state roadways. The “Trumped-up” opposition should be challenged to support humane immigration policies at the federal level instead of peddling fear and hate.
When you look at the facts, it’s clear that their fearmongering is driven by misinformation. The driver’s license bill puts in place stringent proof of identity requirements for undocumented immigrants applying for licenses, and keeps in place all safeguards against non-citizen voting.
As Secretary of State William Galvin has clearly stated, the Registry of Motor Vehicles already provides driver’s licenses to non-citizens who are never automatically registered to vote. The same rigorous process with firewalls would apply to undocumented motorists who apply for a regular Massachusetts driver’s license.
Beyond safety, we already hire the undocumented to perform thousands of jobs for us. Shouldn’t we allow them to get to work? And what do we gain when we stop them from taking their kids to school or elderly relatives to hospitals?In Chelsea and everywhere in the Commonwealth, we say yes on 4.
Gladys Vega is a community activist and executive director of La Colaborativa in Chelsea. Robert Hildreth is a philanthropist and founder of La Vida Scholars.