New Jersey Illegal Alien Drivers-License Bills Provoke Strong Opposition
By David Jaroslav | January 25, 2019
Bills filed in the New Jersey legislature to give drivers’ licenses to illegal aliens have unleashed a torrent of opposition, including a high-profile petition campaign by lawmakers opposed to them.
Senate Bill (SB) 3229, sponsored by Senator Joseph Vitale (D-Woodbridge/Perth Amboy) and companion bill, Assembly Bill (AB) 4743, sponsored by Assemblywoman Annette Quijano (D-Elizabeth) were introduced on December 3. The bills would:
- Make “standard” driver’s licenses available to illegal aliens, while licenses acceptable for federal purposes under the REAL ID Act would be available only to U.S. citizens and those with legal immigration status;
- Require two documents providing “satisfactory proof” that an applicant is an New Jersey resident to get a standard license, plus either a Social Security Number or an indication that the applicant cannot obtain a Social Security Number;
- Exempt documents and information used to apply for a standard license from public records laws, require a subpoena or other court order to disclose them and make otherwise disclosing them a 4th degree felony (punishable by up to 18 months in state prison and up to a $10k fine);
- Declare possession of a standard license not to be evidence of immigration status and not a basis for “investigation, arrest, citation, prosecution, or detention”;
- Require the driver’s manual to be published in, and the driving exam to be available in, the three other most commonly-used languages in the state, as determined by the New Jersey Motor Vehicle Commission (MVC), in addition to English;
- Direct the MVC to launch a public awareness campaign about these changes; and
- Create an advisory board regarding these changes, with appointed members who are unpaid but to be reimbursed for “necessary expenses.”
Unsurprisingly, Governor Phil Murphy (D) supports giving driver’s licenses to illegal aliens, as does Senate President Stephen Sweeney (D-Gloucester/Salem/West Deptford).
But at least three Garden State lawmakers aren’t taking these bills lying down. Republican Senator Christopher Connors, Assemblyman Brian Rumpf and Assemblywoman DiAnne Gove—all of whom represent the Ninth Legislative District in Ocean County—together launched an online petition against the bills on January 9th. In roughly a week, the petition had more than 17,000 signatures.
Sen. Connors furiously condemned the bills, saying “[w]hen New Jersey enforces its regulations, codes and laws against businesses and homeowners—but yet on the other side of the coin will completely ignore that somebody broke the law to come into the country and give them these benefits— I think it’s an outrage.”
Notably, a petition back in 2015 appears to have played a role in stopping a similar proposal.
Assembly Speaker Craig Coughlin (D-Woodbridge) has been noticeably silent so far on the issue. Some observers believe the bills’ proponents already “are concerned the issue will be put off until the end of the year. That’s because all 80 seats in the state Assembly, the Legislature’s lower house, are up for grabs in November’s elections, and some fear Democrats in charge [including Speaker Coughlin] want to avoid tackling a controversial issue that could fire up the Republican base and lead to negative campaign ads.”
Supporters of immigration enforcement and the rule of law in New Jersey should take heart that their situation, while difficult, does not appear hopeless. With attention and persistence, it may be possible to stop these bills and other open-borders measures.