Massachusetts Senate Passes Driver’s Licenses for Illegal Aliens
FAIR Take | May 2022
On May 5, the Massachusetts Senate passed the so-called “Work and Family Mobility Act,” authorizing driver’s licenses for illegal aliens. This follows approval in February by the House of Representatives by a vote of 120-36. The legislation, amended by the Senate, has been sent back to the House for concurrence.
Before the Senate’s passage, former state Representative and current gubernatorial candidate Geoff Diehl (R-Whitman) held a press conference on the State House steps to condemn it along with Angel Mom Maureen Maloney, whose son was killed by an illegal alien drunk driver. Diehl said that “providing driver’s licenses to those here illegally is a mistake” and makes Massachusetts less safe. He added, “[t]here’s a way to come to the country legally and it is through the naturalization process, and becoming a citizen should be the way that you are rewarded with all the services that you can get, including a driver’s license.”
Diehl’s running mate, former Rep. Leah Cole Allen (R-Peabody) echoed his point, saying “[w]e need to be a nation of law and order, or we’re not.”
On the Senate floor, Minority Leader Bruce Tarr (R-Gloucester) offered a series of amendments including making drivers’ licenses for illegal aliens distinctive from standard licenses as well as ensuring these licenses would not be used to vote or allow an individual to register to vote. Tarr argued that “[t]rying to ensure our driver’s licenses have integrity and cannot be misused for various purposes — those are important things, and those things don’t go away because of the hardships we’ve heard about.” Senator Tarr’s amendments were all rejected.
Senator Marc Pacheco (D-Taunton) then offered an amendment that would have prohibited the state from contracting with companies that employ illegal aliens. This amendment was not considered germane and was ruled out of order.
Only an amendment proposed by Senator Brendan Crighton (D-Lynn) to make “technical” and grammatical changes to the driver’s license bill was adopted. The Senate then passed the legislation by a vote of 32-8, with five Democrats—Pacheco, Nick Collins (D-Boston), Anne Gobi (D-Spencer), Walter Timilty (D-Milton) and John Velis (D-Westfield)—joining all three Republicans in voting against it.
Since the Senate amended the House bill, it must now return to the House for concurrence. If the House does not want to concur with the changes, it could request a conference between the two chambers to work out final language. A bill produced by a conference, called a conference report, cannot be amended and can only be voted up or down.
If a driver’s license bill ultimately passes both chambers, Governor Charlie Baker (R) appears likely to veto it. On May 2, he noted that “[i]ssuing the exact same driver’s license to everybody, whether they are eligible to vote or not, and not creating some mechanism to ensure voter integrity is, I think, a problem.”
If Governor Baker does veto the bill there will likely be an override attempt. As it currently stands, the override is likely to succeed since the legislation passed both chambers by significantly more than the two-thirds required for the override.
A recent poll by Suffolk University for the Boston Globe indicated that Massachusetts voters are split almost evenly on the issue of granting driver’s licenses to illegal aliens. Providing driver’s licenses to illegal aliens is supported by 46.1 percent of those polled and opposed by 46.6 percent. Seven percent are undecided.