WGBH reports that 70,000 undocumented immigrants in Massachusetts would be eligible for a license under the bill drafted by the Senator of the Democratic State. Brendan Crighton and set up a transportation committee earlier that year. But also as states that have expanded access have seen numerous benefits, “Anti-immigrant groups along with the state GOP have pushed back and Governor Baker has threatened to veto,” the report said.
This threat of veto now brings additional pain for undocumented communities. “Many of these people who have been hailed and praised are important workers whether they are in the grocery store or in long-term care facilities for our loved ones,” Crighton told WGBH. “These are the people at the front. How do we reward them? We tell them that to drive, they have to break the law. “
As attorneys, heads of state, and studies have long noted, laws passed in states like New Jersey and New York no longer allow undocumented residents to drive legally. “The fact is that in these states the roads are safer, the number of road users is falling, the number of uninsured drivers has dropped dramatically, insurance premiums have become cheaper, and immigrant communities have made a huge contribution to the economy,” said New York Lt . Gov. Kathy Hochul wrote in one Times-Union opened last year. It’s just common sense.
Roberto Santamaria, Nantucket’s health director, told WGBH that driving license legislation can actually be a public health benefit as many undocumented workers share car trips, which can increase the risk of COVID-19 transmission.
Some immigrants who recently got sick in the area picked up staff from multiple locations [and] have spread COVID between the four in a single vehicle, ”Santamaria said in the report. “Then those four would take it home to their spouses and family … Not many people would think that this 2 by 3 inch piece of plastic would be considered a public health intervention, but it is.”
The passage of laws in the name of public health continued to be supported by lawmakers such as Rep. Ayanna Pressley, who held a virtual town hall in May for undocumented communities to chat. “their experience of the obstacles they face when they cannot get a driver’s license, ”WBUR reported at the time. One immigrant, “Maria,” said WGBH that she fears being arrested if she drives but feels that she has no other choice. “But we have to take our children to school,” she said. “We have to get her to her appointments. We have to go. “
“Giving undocumented immigrants the ability to drive legally will eliminate a great source of anxiety in their daily lives,” advocates wrote in CommonWealth Magazine this month. “During the pandemic, undocumented residents who work in hospitals, supermarkets, and other major professions risked their health to serve us. If you ask them to keep doing this while you deny them the opportunity to legally drive, it will add unnecessary stress in this new normal.”