Local advocates want state to grant immigrants drivers licenses

Hampden County

SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – A coalition of labor and community organizations, including the Pioneer Valley Workers Center held a car rally in Springfield calling on the state to grant driver’s licenses to Massachusetts residents regardless of their immigration status.

“We are here because it is really important for all of us, as immigrants, to have a license so that we are able to get around and transport ourselves,” said Claudia Rosales, an organizer from Pioneer Valley Workers Center.

According to the American Immigration Council in 2016 – there were nearly 250,000 undocumented immigrants living in Massachusetts.

Advocates told 22News that immigrants who are currently barred from driving are a vital part of the commonwealth’s social and economic system. In fact – data from the ACLU show undocumented immigrants paid more than $184-million in state and local taxes in 2016.

During the COVID-19 pandemic – many undocumented immigrants are considered essential workers–without licenses, worker and union members are regularly arrested, which could lead to deportation.

“We have really valuable community members here in this community and every community,” said Finley Janes, and organizer from the Pioneer Valley Workers Center. “They need the right to be able to drive in order to have the standard of life that I think everyone should be able to access.”

The Work And Family Mobility Act would allow all qualified residents, regardless of immigration status, to receive a standard license. Right now – the bill sits in the state senate ways and means committee.

The end of formal session is July 31, so lawmakers will have to act fast if they want the bill to pass.

INFORMATION ON THE 2020 CENSUS

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