Rhode Island Likely to Give Driver's Licenses to Illegal Alien "DACA" Recipients
By David Jaroslav | June 15, 2018
Legislation to give drivers’ licenses to illegal aliens has reared its head in the Ocean State of Rhode Island repeatedly over at least the past five years, but never made it all the way through the process. In the guise of protecting “DACA” recipients, that now appears likely to change.
House Bill (H.) 7982 would authorize the Rhode Island Division of Motor Vehicles to issue driver’s licenses and ID cards not only to current DACA recipients, but to “any current or past recipient.” [emphasis added] That means that even people who had their DACA status revoked for criminal convictions, gang membership, terrorist threats to national security, etc., would still be eligible for a driver’s license in Rhode Island. Additionally, while the bill says it doesn’t grant DACA recipients the right to vote, unlike even in most states that already issue illegal-alien drivers’ licenses, it doesn’t require any distinguishing features on them to make clear the holders aren’t American citizens.
The bill was introduced on March 22 by Representative Shelby Maldonado (D-Central Falls); it is also co-sponsored by Representative Blake Filippi (R-Charlestown), the House Minority (i.e., Republican) Whip. It passed the House Judiciary Committee on April 10 with a recommended substitute amendment (“Sub A”), which removed from the bill a proposed “Rhode Island Limited Work Permit” also for current or past DACA recipients. The full House adopted the Judiciary substitute and passed it on April 12 by a vote of 64-3, with only Representatives Justin Price (R-Richmond), Robert Quattrocchi (R-Scituate) and Sherry Roberts (R-West Greenwich) voting No. Representative Antonio Giarusso (R-East Greenwich) did not vote and the House’s seven other Republicans joined with the Democrats to vote Yes.
The bill passed the Senate Judiciary Committee with a second recommended substitute amendment (“Sub B”) on May 29, which primarily eliminated the House’s lengthy “legislative findings” section—praising DACA, its recipients and their contributions to Rhode Island—from the bill. On June 5 the full Senate adopted that substitute and passed it by a vote of 33-2: only Senators Mark Gee (R-East Greenwich) and Elaine Morgan (R-Hopkinton) voted No.
Once the House received H. 7982 back as amended by the Senate, the House Judiciary Committee on June 12 recommended the House concur with the Senate amendment, and on June 14 the House concurred and passed it again by a vote of 60-4, with House Minority Leader Patricia Morgan (R-West Warwick) joining the previous Noes. It has now passed both chambers in identical form but has not yet been sent to Governor Gina Raimondo (D). She has been pushing for drivers’ licenses for illegal aliens for years: in 2015 she even considered an executive order issuing them without legislation. She’s also spoken in favor of the bill as it moved through the process. Therefore, she will almost certainly sign it.
But as courts in Georgia and Arizona have recently held, DACA recipients are still illegal aliens. Driver’s licenses for illegal aliens encourage fraud on a massive scale. They also blur the lines between citizens, legal immigrants and illegal aliens ever further. And like any benefit they act as a magnet for additional illegal immigration. If Rhode Island does this, they will be doing themselves nothing but harm.