Virginia Legislature Passes Drivers’ Licenses, Other Bills to Benefit Illegal Aliens
By Tanner Bonovitch | FAIR Take | March 2020
After a 61-day legislative session, the Virginia General Assembly adjourned on March 8. During this session, there was a flurry of legislation pushed by the Democrats who took control of both the legislative and executive branches for the first time in a generation. The legislature sent 1,351 out of 3,001 bills to Governor Ralph Northam (D) including a number of immigration bills previously blocked by Republicans that will undermine or impede federal immigration enforcement. The passage of these bills clearly reflects their priorities to reward illegal aliens with more benefits.
One of the bills sent to Governor Northam grants “driving privilege cards” to illegal aliens. Senate Bill (SB) 34, sponsored by Senator Scott Surovell (D-Fairfax) makes Virginia the 15th state in the country to reward illegal behavior and encourage more illegal immigration.
The following provisions are required by SB 34:
- In order to be eligible for the driver’s privilege card, an illegal alien must report income and deductions from Virginia sources or be claimed as a dependent on an individual Virginia income tax return filed in the preceding 12 months as well as be in compliance with car insurance requirements set forth by the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV).
- The driver’s privilege card will contain the phrase "Driver Privilege Card: not valid ID for voting or public benefits purposes."
- The driver’s privilege card will expire two years after the date of issuance and the applicant will be required to renew.
- Information received by DMV may not be released unless the DMV Commissioner grants authority. In order to receive such information, the person or agency requesting it must provide the Commissioner with a description of how the information will be used.
- Driver’s privilege cards will be available starting January 1st, 2021.
Virginia attorney Eduardo Justo, who supported the bill, says "[n]ot being able to drive is obviously a burden. They cannot get to work, they cannot buy produce, they cannot go places … "Getting this driver's permit would allow them to drive and move around, go to work, avoid being late at work,” despite the fact that illegal aliens are prohibited by federal law from working in the U.S.
The Republican Party of Virginia condemned the bill, with spokesman John March saying, “[i]nstead of working on behalf of their constituents, Democrats chose to work on behalf of illegal immigrants.” He added, “I’m not sure that the farmer without access to broadband or the single mother struggling to make ends meet will be too happy about this, but who knows. Democrats have shown where their priorities are, and they aren’t with Virginians.”
In addition to granting driving privileges to illegal aliens, Virginia legislators also made them eligible for in-state tuition rates at all public colleges and universities. With a finite number of seats and amount of aid available, when public universities admit illegal alien and provide subsidized tuition and financial aid, some other student who is also deserving is denied an opportunity. Admitting and subsidizing illegal aliens, in effect, punishes citizens and legal residents who have done nothing wrong themselves. Moreover, granting illegal aliens financial aid is also unfair to foreign students lawfully present in the United States on student visas. Students with visas are required to pay non-resident tuition rates. This sends the wrong message to students who play by the rules and are forced to pay higher tuition rates than those who are in the country illegally.
Other immigration-related bills that passed included: forbidding law enforcement to inquire into the immigration status of crime victims or witnesses; allowing local jurisdictions discretion not to contact immigration authorities when they book someone into custody for a misdemeanor; eliminating ID requirements for voting; and creating a new state “Office of New Americans" to assist immigrants regardless of immigration status in pursuing public benefits.
Each of the bills passed with overwhelming Democrat support and little to none from Republicans. The measures now go to the governor, who is likely to sign them.