News from State and Local Operations (NL2301)
With the governor’s office and both houses of the state legislature now in the hands of Democrats, state lawmakers began the 2023 session with legislation that would grant Minnesota driver’s licenses to illegal aliens.
House File 4 was introduced by Representatives Aisha Gomez (DFL-Minneapolis) and Maria Isa Pérez-Vega (DFL- St. Paul). HF 4 creates a new category of “noncompliant driver’s licenses” which, appropriately enough, would give Minnesota residents who are “noncompliant” with U.S. immigration laws driving privileges and state-issued IDs. A companion bill in the Minnesota Senate, State File 27, also known as “Driver’s Licenses for All” was introduced by Zaynab Mohamed (DFL-Minneapolis).
The push for granting licenses to illegal aliens marks a sharp about-face on the part of state officials. In the immediate aftermath of the attacks of 9/11, Minnesota was one of the first states to recognize that state-issued driver’s licenses and ID cards were instrumental in the terrorists’ ability to attack the United States. In fact, Minnesota has been at the forefront of driver’s-license security for years. At the time, 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 then tied license expiration dates to visa expiration dates, and detailed the process for conducting those status checks.
With Democrats holding a slim one-seat majority in the upper chamber, Senate President Bobby Joe Champion (DFL-Minneapolis) cautioned illegal alien advocates that final passage of driver’s license legislation is not a lock. If it is approved by both chambers, it is likely that Gov. Tim Walz would sign it into law.
Faced with a projected $2.9 billion budget deficit and a growing influx of illegal migrants estimated to consume about $2 billion in city resources, Mayor Eric Adams began the year with a trip to the border. Not to call on the Biden administration to close it, of course, but to ramp up pressure for more federal money to pay for services provided to migrants (like $500 a night hotel rooms).
Meanwhile, up in Albany, where state lawmakers are confronting huge state budget deficits, open borders advocates and their allies in the legislature are pushing to make taxpayer-funded legal services to illegal aliens fighting removal a permanent program. Senate Bill 999, sponsored by Sen. Brad Hoylman (D-Manhattan), and Assembly Bill 160, sponsored by Assemblywoman Catalina Cruz (D-Queens), would create a statutory right to taxpayer-funded deportation legal defense for every individual in New York who is unable to pay for an immigration lawyer. The price tag for this new “right” legislators want to bestow on illegal aliens is about $300 million a year.
Cooler heads and empty pockets may, however, derail this effort. At least a few Democrats in Albany have spoken out publicly against the bill, while Gov. Kathy Hochul, who won a narrow victory in a reliably deep blue state, has not publicly endorse the idea of making taxpayer-funded legal representation for illegal aliens a permanent feature of the Empire State’s budget.