Three More States Introduce Bills to Give Driver’s Licenses to Illegal Aliens
FAIR Take | March 2021
Over the past two years, three more states have passed laws allowing illegal aliens to apply for driver’s licenses – New York, New Jersey and Virginia. There is now a total of 17 states nationwide that grant driving privileges to those illegally in the United States. When Virginia passed its law, Don Rosenberg, president of Advocates for Victims of Illegal Alien Crime (AVIAC) who lost his son Drew to an illegal alien driver, said “[a]llowing illegal aliens to get a driver’s license ... is not only bad policy but also dangerous … As a group, illegal aliens are terrible drivers. Years of data show they are five times more likely to be involved in a fatal collision, five times more likely to drive drunk, and 10 times more likely to hit-and-run."
Now three more states, Pennsylvania, Minnesota, and Idaho, have introduced bills that would extend this benefit to illegal aliens. This legislation is dangerous because driver’s licenses are useful to create an appearance of lawful presence and they serve as the virtual passport to the nation, opening many doors that would otherwise be unavailable. They are also used for countless other purposes like registering to vote and applying for government benefits, as well as for establishing bank and credit card accounts.
Representative Danilo Burgos (D-Philadelphia) introduced House Bill (HB) 279 on January 27, which currently has 27 cosponsors, only two of whom are Republicans. Senator Tim Kearney (D-Delaware/Chester) plans to introduce an identical or similar companion bill in the state Senate.
Sen. Kearney says “[e]veryone in Pennsylvania needs to drive to get to work,” even though federal law prohibits illegal aliens from working in the United States and makes it a crime to employ them.
Both chambers are controlled by Republicans, so without more GOP support and cosponsors, the bills have little chance of passage. A similar bill did not advance last year.
While Governor Tom Wolf (D) has not spoken out on the subject, if the bill actually passed with the bipartisan support it would need, him vetoing it would probably be extremely unlikely.
The Land of 10,000 Lakes has seen a driver’s license bill already advance quickly through its Democrat-controlled House of Representatives, sponsored by House Majority Leader Ryan Winkler (D-Golden Valley).
Winkler introduced House File (HF) 1163 on February 18 and it has already been voted out of the House Judiciary Finance and Civil Law Committee, by a party-line 10-5 vote on February 26. The bill is now in the House Transportation Finance and Policy Committee, where it has not yet been scheduled for a hearing.
Big business groups especially in the agriculture industry have lined up in support, including the state’s Chamber of Commerce and AgriGrowth Council.
There is no companion bill filed so far in the Republican-controlled state Senate. Similar legislation passed the House in 2019 but did not advance in the Senate. Minnesota is scheduled to be in session until May 17.
Governor Tim Walz (D) campaigned on a open-borders agenda and voiced support for the 2019 bill, so if a bill did pass both chambers he would almost certainly sign it.
In Idaho, it’s a Republican legislator pushing driver’s licenses for illegal aliens, backed up by the big business lobby always looking to protect their supply of cheap illegal labor. Sen. Jim Guthrie (R-McCammon) first proposed the idea in 2020 but waited until February 19 of this year to introduce it, as Senate Bill (SB) 1132.
The director of the legislature’s nonpartisan Office of Performance Evaluation, Rakesh Mohan, estimated the new licenses would bring in an additional $700,000 in revenue for the state from application fees. However, this estimate does not include any offsetting new expenses caused by additional immigration into the state, drawn by the magnet of such a benefit. In 2017, FAIR estimated that Idaho taxpayers spent over $300 million on illegal aliens.
No companion bill has yet been filed in the Idaho House and Governor Brad Little (R) hasn’t publicly taken a position on the bill, although Sen. Guthrie apparently met with him to make a “presentation” on it.
Idaho's legislative session is scheduled to adjourn on March 26.