Immigrant families cry, celebrate after Massachusetts legislature overrides GOP governor’s veto

Immigrant families cry, celebrate after Massachusetts legislature overrides GOP governor’s veto

The Massachusetts legislature on Thursday easily overrode Republican Gov. Charlie Baker’s veto of legislation opening driver’s licenses to undocumented residents. When the Work and Mobility Act goes into effect in July 2023, the commonwealth will join at least 16 states, Puerto Rico, and Washington, D.C., in making roads and communities safer by allowing undocumented residents to drive legally.

Senator Ed Markey on Twitter congratulated the Driving Families Forward Coalition, and all advocates who continued to fight the legislation despite repeated, completely unfounded veto threats from Baker. “This victory is a testament to the power of activists, legislators, and families across Massachusetts committed to supporting immigrants and ensuring they are treated fairly,” Markey wrote.

“Both chambers had initially passed the measure by margins wide enough to override a Baker veto,” CBS News reports. But Baker vetoed the bill late last month, citing supposed voter fraud issues that have been debunked by the bill’s proponent and state officials. In order to apply for a license, applicants must provide a number of official documents, such as a foreign passport or consular identification, and a birth certificate.

And despite the unfounded claims by Baker and other opponents, the legislation is just common sense. Roads will be safer with licensed and insured drivers, and the state will make some revenue thanks to those fees. Families in the state will be safer, because getting pulled over for a minor traffic violation may now not result in deportation. Following the state house passing the bill in February, Boston City Council Member Tania Fernandes Anderson tweeted, “[t]his remains the reality for many families today.”

“In the first two years of the Trump administration, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) arrests of people with no criminal convictions more than tripled,” said the American Civil Liberties Union of Maine. “The most common charges are traffic offenses. By making driver’s licenses available to all, regardless of immigration status, we can reduce the devastating impact of Trump’s deportation agenda on Massachusetts families.”

The Driving Families Forward Coalition on Thursday shared a tweet of advocates celebrating this week’s historic win. The ACLU of Massachusetts said that Movimiento Cosecha had camped out overnight in front of the state house to continue pressuring lawmakers to override Baker’s veto. In another tweet, Movimiento Cosecha shared when advocates found out they’d won.

Props to @CosechaMovement and all the immigrants, in so many organizations or on their own, who have fought so bravely for so many years to win license access in Massachusetts for every resident regardless of status. Se pudo!

— Driving Families Forward Coalition (@DrivingMA4ward) June 9, 2022

The Massachusetts Senate has overruled the governor’s veto of the Work and Family Mobility Act. Drivers licenses for undocumented immigrants is now law!

— Movimiento Cosecha (@CosechaMovement) June 9, 2022

Immigrant leaders cry and embrace after winning Licenses for All in Massachusetts after 20 years of community organizing. Finally we will be able to drive without fear!

— Movimiento Cosecha (@CosechaMovement) June 9, 2022

The ACLU of Massachusetts noted, “[t]here is bipartisan support for driver’s license legislation across the U.S. … Even Republican governors—in Utah, Nevada and New Mexico—have signed laws to confer driving privileges for all, regardless of immigration status.” Minus Baker, who could have been on the right side by approving the legislation. The bill won’t go into effect for another year, yet another Republican in the state, gubernatorial candidate Geoff Diehl, is apparently campaigning on ending it, CBS News said. But if Republicans really want to run on decreasing public safety, that’s on them.

“’This gives so much relief to thousands of families here in Massachusetts,’ said a teary-eyed Roxana Rivera, a union vice president and co-chair of the coalition that advocated for the legislation,” The Boston Globe reported. “It proves ‘we can win. And we can’t give up on each other. Our lives are too important.’” Democratic Senator Brendan Crighton, a bill sponsor, called it “a well-vetted piece of legislation,” the report said. “Our roads are safer when every single driver has to have a road test, vision test, and obtain insurance. … This is something we should all want.”

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