According to new reports, Democrats in Minnesota are set to pass new legislation which would allow immigrants, regardless of their legal status in the country, to get driver’s licenses.
“Immigrants, whether they are documented or undocumented, are Minnesotans, they are part of the fabric of our communities,” said Minnesota House Democrat Ryan Winkler. “It is time that we helped take away this shadow of not having a driver’s license.”
The Republican-controlled Minnesota Senate has indicated that, should the bill pass the House, it will not survive.
From The Star Tribune:
The Minnesota House is poised to pass a measure Friday that would give all immigrants the ability to get driver’s licenses, even if they are in the country illegally.
“Immigrants, whether they are documented or undocumented, are Minnesotans. They are part of the fabric of our communities … It is time that we helped take away this shadow of not having a driver’s license,” House Majority Leader Ryan Winkler, D-Golden Valley, said at a news conference ahead of the vote.
The measure originally would require that the licenses be labeled “not for voting” on the back side. It was amended on the House floor to require that the voting restriction appear on the front of the licenses. It also states that election officials and judges must be informed to not accept the identification when registering voters.
The Democratic majority in the House has made the change a top priority, but the measure has not progressed in the Republican-controlled Senate. Winkler said the proposal also is included in the House’s broad transportation bill, a way to try to bring it to the end of session negotiations even if the Senate does not act.
Senate Majority Leader Paul Gazelka, R-Nisswa, has called the chances that the bill would pass his chamber “small.” He told The Pioneer Press earlier this year that he is concerned about “rewarding people that are here illegally” and instead wants to focus on addressing long waits for Minnesotans trying to get driver’s licenses.
Immigrants, regardless of their status, previously were able to obtain licenses in Minnesota if they could pass the driver’s test and buy insurance. That changed in 2003 as part of a broad effort to beef up security in the wake of the 9/11 terrorist attacks.
Supporters of the driver’s license measure, including immigrants, religious leaders and a St. Paul police senior commander, showed up at the Capitol on Friday to advocate for the change.