Mark your calendar. July 1, 2023 will be an important date for immigrants living in Massachusetts with pending cases or otherwise lack proof of lawful status. On June 9, 2022, the Massachusetts legislature voted to override Governor Baker’s veto of An Act Relative to Work and Family Mobility, which allows for immigrants to obtain a driver’s license regardless of their legal status. This law will take into effect on July 1, 2023.
The most important thing about this new law is that the Registry of Motor Vehicles can not ask for proof of lawful status or report any individual who does not have them to other agencies. If you have had a driver’s license in another state or country that was revoked then you will not be eligible. In order to obtain a driver’s license, you will need to go through the testing process and provide two documents as proof of identity. Any documents that are not written in English must be accompanied by a certified translation. The Act lays out the acceptable documents:
“(1) a valid unexpired foreign passport; or (2) a valid unexpired Consular Identification document.
The other document shall be: (1) a valid unexpired driver’s license from any United States state or territory; (2) an original or certified copy of a birth certificate; (3) a valid unexpired foreign national identification card; (4) a valid unexpired foreign driver’s license; or (5) a marriage certificate or divorce decree issued by any state or territory of the United States.”
Getting your license will not put you in danger of deportation. Asylum seekers will no longer need to wait until they have an Employment Authorization Document in order to drive legally and USCIS processing times will no longer leave immigrants living in Massachusetts immobilized.
The Republicans are already making an effort to overturn this law before it has even taken effect; Governor Charlie Baker made unfounded claims that this bill could lead to illegal voting. This has not been the case in Connecticut, which has had a similar law for the past seven years; however, Connecticut did see a 9% decrease in hit & run accidents from 2016 to 2018. Multiple candidates currently running for governor oppose this law. However if Governor Baker couldn’t stop this bill, the next governor won’t be able to either. Baker’s veto was overridden with a margin of 32-8 in the State Senate and 119-36 in the State House; meaning a large majority of the Massachusetts legislature support this law and plan to protect it.
If you would like to read the Act yourself, please see the link below: