SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) –  You probably drive your car to work, visit relatives, or go grocery shopping, but what if you didn’t have your license, and had no way to get it?

In Massachusetts you have to be 16½, and have a learner’s permit for 6 months to get a driver’s license, but immigrants in Massachusetts don’t have the same rights, and some state lawmakers want to change that.

The Joint Committee on Transportation is considering a bill filed by Rep. Tricia Farley-Bouvier of Pittsfield and Sen. Patricia Jehlen of Somerville, that would allow driver’s licenses to be issued to state residents ineligible for Social Security numbers or who do not provide proof of immigration status.

State Representative Michael Finn is on the Joint Committee on Transportation. He hasn’t taken a stance on the issue yet, but explained the bill to 22News. “They’re looking to be able to get insured, they want to be able to attend driving school and things like that and so, it’s acknowledging the fact that a lot of folks are here illegally, and are part of our Commonwealth, but to try and do it in a thoughtful way,” Finn said.

Several states, including Connecticut, already have similar laws.

Supporters are calling this bill a matter of public safety, arguing that tens of thousands of undocumented immigrants could still be driving every single day without a license, training or car insurance.

Springfield resident Uriah Rodriguez told 22News he thinks it would help make roads safer. “You need to be tested and make sure you can operate a vehicle safely, so I think for those reasons there’s a benefit in getting everyone a license, documented or undocumented,” he said.

Many other people disagree, arguing the state shouldn’t grant driving privileges to people who aren’t here legally.

So far, 50 lawmakers have signed onto the bill.


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