BOSTON — The State Senate recently passed An Act Relative to Work and Family Mobility with a 32-8 vote. The bill would allow Massachusetts residents who lack federal immigration status to apply for a Massachusetts standard driver’s license, the non-REAL ID license.
“I’m proud that the Senate today passed this long overdue bill to advance justice and provide economic, health, and safety benefits to the Commonwealth,” said Sen. Jo Comerford (D – Northampton). “This bill recognizes the importance of our undocumented immigrant neighbors to our economy and community and states proudly that they deserve safety and dignity. I’m grateful to the many advocates and organizers who have fought for years to make this bill a reality, and to Senator Crighton, Senate President Spilka, and Senate colleagues for legislative leadership on this issue.”
The bill has received widespread support from members of the law enforcement community, advocacy groups, and members of the immigrant community. It proposes strict identity documentation criteria, asking for applicants to present two valid, unexpired identity documents. It makes no change to existing law requiring that all driver’s license applicants prove that they live in the Commonwealth.
The legislation also includes layered protection for driver information, prohibiting the Massachusetts RMV from keeping records of citizenship or immigration status for standard license holders and applicants. Safeguards are also put in place for voting, above and beyond the existing protections, directing the Registry of Motor Vehicles and Secretary of State to establish procedures to ensure that drivers without lawful immigration status are not erroneously registered to vote.
The bill passed today is nearly identical to the version that passed the House of Representatives earlier this year with a 120-36 vote. The minor differences between the House and Senate versions of the bill will need to be reconciled before the bill is sent to the Governor.