Massachusetts House of Representatives Passes Driver’s Licenses For Illegal Aliens
FAIR Take | March 2022
After years of opposition from FAIR and others committed to the rule of law, the Massachusetts House of Representatives passed a bill on February 16 to authorize driver’s licenses for illegal aliens.
The so-called “Family Mobility Act” was introduced by Sen. Brendan Crighton (D-Lynn) and Rep. Tricia Farley-Bouvier (D-Pittsfield) in the beginning of 2021. On June 23, 2021 the Joint Committee on Transportation held a hearing on the bill. FAIR staff submitted written testimony opposing it and many others spoke against it.
After the hearing, the bill languished in committee until February 10 when House Speaker Ronald Mariano (D) suddenly announced it would be brought to the House floor for a vote the following week. This was unexpected since Speaker Mariano was perceived as a moderate who was likely to follow in footsteps of his predecessor, longtime Speaker Robert DeLeo (D-Winthrop). Speaker DeLeo prevented the House from considering bills to grant driver’s licenses for illegal aliens from 2009-2020, his time as Speaker.
The bill as it passed the House would:
- Repeal the prohibition in state law that prohibits the state from issuing driver’s licenses to illegal aliens;
- Authorize the Registry of Motor Vehicles (RMV) to issue driver’s licenses to illegal aliens if they produce the required documents;
- Make the information to apply for the driver’s license provided to the RMV by an illegal alien confidential; and
- Direct the RMV to ensure illegal aliens who apply for driver’s licenses don’t automatically get registered to vote.
The bill passed by a vote of 120-36. All of the Republicans and seven Democrats voted against it. The bill now moves to the more progressive Senate which is expected to also pass it.
In previous years, Governor Charlie Baker (R) has promised to veto any bill that grants driver’s licenses to illegal aliens. However, the sponsors of this year’s bill claim that the new required documentation for illegal aliens to get a license should overcome Baker’s previous objections. They are encouraging him to sign it.
Ultimately, Governor Baker’s decision may not matter. The bill passed the House by more than the 2/3 supermajority needed to override a veto and the Senate is expected to pass it by a similar margin. However, if the bill does get vetoed, there is a chance that members could be persuaded to change their vote and sustain the veto.
Sixteen states and the District of Columbia grant driver’s licenses to illegal aliens, most recently joined by Virginia in 2020.