New Jersey becomes latest state to allow undocumented immigrants to apply for driver’s licenses

For two years, immigration advocates braved rain and cold weather to campaign for this moment.

Last Thursday, New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy signed a bill allowing undocumented immigrants in the Garden State to get driver’s licenses.

“And let’s be clear, we are hardly being revolutionary here. Rather, today is a simple recognition that our immigrant communities and each of you are a vital part of our state and our economy.  It’s an acknowledgment that many immigrant residents are already behind the wheel and on our roads, going to work and schools or simply going to the grocery store.” 

The bill makes New Jersey the 14th state, along with the District of Columbia, to grant driver’s licenses to undocumented immigrants.

New York’s law granting the licenses went into effect this week.

Supporters have argued roads are safer with more tested, trained and insured drivers — regardless of their immigration status.

Opponents, meanwhile, have fired back, saying the new law rewards people for breaking the law.

“This is a state benefit, they’re not giving federal benefit. So they’re still undocumented in the eyes of the federal government.  This isn’t going to assist them in obtaining legal status. As a former police officer and as an immigration attorney, I think it actually places them in greater danger than they’ve ever been.”

Edward Carrasco pointed out that newly licensed drivers might get emboldened and commit driving offenses which could lead to police stops.

According to estimates, there are about 500,000 undocumented residents who are of driving age in new jersey. Meanwhile, the new law goes into effect in January 2021.

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