Rhode Island Passes Drivers’ Licenses for Illegal Aliens
FAIR Take | July 2022
Last week the Rhode Island House of Representatives passed a bill to authorize drivers’ licenses for illegal aliens. The Senate passed the same bill in May. It now goes to Governor Dan McKee (D) who has already said he’ll sign it.
The Senate drivers’ license bill, SB 2006, was introduced on January 6 by Senator Frank Ciccone (D-Providence). A House companion, HB 7708, sponsored by Representative Anastasia Williams (D-Providence) was introduced on March 2. The Judiciary Committee quickly scheduled the House bill for a hearing on March 24 where it decided to “hold the bill for further study.” The Senate Judiciary Committee scheduled a hearing on April 28 for SB 2006. It was reported favorably out of committee and passed the Senate on May 5 by a 27-10 vote. FAIR staff submitted written testimony in opposition to both bills at their respective committee hearings.
The House Judiciary Committee passed both SB 2006 and HB 7708 on June 21 and the House passed the Senate bill on June 22 by a 54-15 vote.
Rep. Patricia Morgan (R-West Warwick) opposed the bill, stating “it is not about human dignity. It is not whether you are a good person or not. It is whether you came here with permission or not.”
Governor McKee’s signature on the bill is a foregone conclusion, as he has previously expressed his “strong support” for it.
Unlike Massachusetts, where a petition to repeal the drivers’ license bill before it takes effect could be on the ballot in November, Rhode Island has no petition process. Ballot questions can only be initiated by the legislature.
Illegal aliens in Rhode Island will now be able to get drivers’ licenses after the bill’s effective date on July 1, 2023.
Sixteen states and the District of Columbia currently issue drivers’ licenses to illegal aliens. The most recent to authorize them was Virginia in 2020.