Is NJ Closer to Driver’s Licenses for Unauthorized Immigrants?
A new round of ICE deportation raids announced — then postponed — by President Donald Trump added to one immigration group's push for New Jersey to adopt driver's licenses for unauthorized immigrants.
Make the Road New Jersey recently shared the stories of two members detained by ICE. In a Facebook update on June 10, the organization said both fathers were detained while driving to work after they could not present valid identification. The post also said "no family should have to face separation when they drive to work or school."
Legislation introduced in December got its 30th cosponsor as supporters rallied Thursday outside the Statehouse in Trenton.
As drafted, the measure would create two categories of driver's licenses and identification cards, allowing "residents unable to prove lawful presence in U.S. to receive permits and standard driver's licenses or identification cards."
It would still comply with the federal Real ID Act, which is slated to continue rolling out in New Jersey this summer.
Neither driver's license would allow unauthorized immigrants to vote or access state services, a concern for opponents and skeptics of the proposed law.
Last week, U.S. Rep. Bonnie Watson Coleman, D-N.J., announced her support for expanding access to drivers licenses in New Jersey. The Central Jersey Democrat said "immigrants are our neighbors, our friends, and valuable members of our community. I applaud A4743. It would expand access to drivers licenses ensuring families are able to take their kids to school, get to work, and can help us keep our roads safer in the process."
New York this month became the 13th state alongside Washington, D.C., and Puerto Rico, to allow undocumented immigrants to have some form of driver’s license, according to the National Immigration Law Center.
However, there were immediate challenges to the New York law from at least two county clerks.
Erie County Clerk Michael Kearns said he thinks the law is in violation of the Immigration and Reform and Control Act of 1986, which bans employers from knowingly hiring undocumented immigrants, the Washington Post reported.
News 10 ABC reported that Rensselaer County Clerk Frank Merola also said he would refuse to give unauthorized immigrants driver’s licenses.
On Saturday, June 22, Trump said on Twitter: “At the request of Democrats, I have delayed the Illegal Immigration Removal Process (Deportation) for two weeks.” He also said the people the efforts would be aimed at already had been ordered to be deported.
ABC News reported the Trump administration planned to deport more than 2,000 undocumented immigrants in as many as 10 cities, including New York.