Minnesota House Passes Drivers’ Licenses for Illegal Aliens
By David Jaroslav | April 11, 2019
Minnesota’s Democrat-majority House of Representatives recently passed a bill that would have the Land of 10,000 Lakes join a dozen other states in allowing illegal aliens to get driver’s licenses. Fortunately, the bill now faces a steep uphill climb in the Republican-controlled state Senate.
Minnesota has been in the forefront of driver’s-license security for years. In the immediate aftermath of the 9-11 terrorist attacks, the legislature not only required U.S. citizenship or legal presence to be eligible for a license, but authorized license “status checks” for those only lawfully in the country temporarily. By administrative rule, the Minnesota Department of Public Safety (“DPS”) then tied license expiration dates to visa expiration dates, and detailed the process for conducting those status checks. Those rules are still in place.
- Create a new category of “noncompliant” drivers’ licenses that doesn’t require proof of American citizenship or lawful presence in the U.S.;
- List documents illegal aliens can use to prove identity and that they live in Minnesota in order to get noncompliant licenses, including foreign passports, foreign consular ID cards, and drivers’ licenses issued by other states that are themselves noncompliant, even if expired;
- Make none of the rules adopted by DPS regarding license status checks apply to noncompliant licenses and prevent DPS from issuing any new rules that would;
- Mark noncompliant licenses, “Not For Voting” (although Minnesota doesn’t require voter ID);
- Make ID information, documents, and even the fact of application for a noncompliant license confidential and not to be disclosed to any agency (federal, state or local) outside of DPS; and
- Order state and local law enforcement not to take any official action based on a license being noncompliant.
The bill was introduced on February 21 and quickly sailed through five committees. It passed the House on April 5, by a vote of 74-52. Two Republican representatives voted for the bill, Dave Baker (R-Willmar) and Rod Hamilton (R-Mountain Lake), while two Democrats voted against it, Ben Lien (D-Moorhead) and Paul Marquart (D-Dilworth).
Speaking in opposition, Rep. Steve Drazkowski (R-Mazeppa) called HF 1500 a “super magnet” for illegal immigration and “one step closer to making Minnesota a sanctuary state.” And Rep. Glenn Gruenhagen (R-Glencoe) added, “we want immigrants coming here legally and [to] create a ladder to the middle class … Incentivizing people to come here illegally defeats that purpose.”
Similar sentiments have been echoed in the Senate, where the bill is now assigned to the Transportation Finance & Policy Committee. Senator Bill Ingebrigtsen (R-Alexandria) has been outspoken, saying “Minnesota shouldn’t be in the business of incentivizing illegal behavior, and by allowing illegal and undocumented immigrants access to driver’s licenses, that’s exactly what our state would be doing[.]” Senate Majority Leader Paul Gazelka (R-Nisswa) described the bill’s chances in the upper chamber as “small.”
On the small chance that HF 1500 did pass the Senate, however, new Governor Tim Walz (D) would be almost certain to sign it, as he pushed for an open-borders agenda during his election campaign and specifically for giving driver’s licenses to illegal aliens.
The Minnesota Legislature is scheduled to adjourn on May 20, but bills passed at this session will “carry over” to 2020.