Massachusetts is home to over 200,000 immigrants without legal citizenship, therefore the new law extending driving privileges for undocumented immigrants will have a positive effect on over 80,000 people over these next three years.
Under the new law, a foreign passport or other consular identity document must be presented to the Registry of Motor Vehicles in order to apply for a driver’s license. In addition, immigrants seeking to obtain their driver’s license will need to show one of the five following additional documents: a driver’s license from another U.S. state or territory, a birth certificate, a foreign national identity card, a foreign driver’s license, or a marriage certificate or divorce decree from any U.S. state or territory. According to the law, applicants for licenses will need to demonstrate their ability to drive safely and get insurance to cover their vehicle in case of an accident.
Immigration rights organizations who had long advocated for the law, presenting it in part as a public safety precaution, celebrated the passage of the law as a victory. Although many were pleased with the passing of the law, some opposed it. Specifically, critics of the measure, such as Republican candidate for governor Geoff Diehl and former Republican Governor Charlie Baker, claimed it may make it simpler for those living in the country illegally to cast ballots. However, supporters claim that the law takes precautions to prevent fraudulent voting.