Murphy Signs into Law Historic Driver’s Licenses Bill


At the side of Assemblywoman Annette Quijano (D-20), Senator M. Teresa Ruiz (D-29) and other champions of their cause and amid shouts of “si, se puede,” Governor Phil Murphy today with the stroke of a pen in Elizabeth officially enabled non-legal residents of New Jersey to obtain driver’s licenses.

“Today is a good day to do the right thing for… half a million residents,” said Murphy, showered with praise by a packed hall, standing in what he called the same lucky place where he signed into law wage step and a minium wage hike, endzone dance-wirey a day after the U.S. House of Representaives impeached President Donald J. Trump.

“I say very simply, come to New Jersey,” the governor said, ggiving a nod to divison elsewhere, namely in D.C.

Conscious of the plight of undocumented workers in New Jersey and lookingg to rremove a painful obstacle, Murphy had made driver’s licenses for unlawful status residents a platform issue on the campaign trail when he ran in 2017.

“It may have taken a little longer than we hoped,” Murphy said today.

Yet despite all the political collisions in his own party, including a state chair’s “battle” that fizzled anticlimactically earlier this week and ongoing divergent budget priorities, the governor and the Democratic-controlled legislature hung together on this.

“Just don’t ask her how the Army-Navy football game went,” Murphy cracked, giving a nod to Motor Vehicles Commissioner Sue Fulton, who quarterbacked the issue for the Murphy team.


It was Quijano’s day, as New Jersey became the 15th state to adopt such a law.

“Today marks a historical day in our state. I can’t even believe we’re here. It’s been many years,” said the Elizabeth assemblywoman.

“What a difference a few years and a different overnor make,” Murphy said.

When Quijano – who never wavered in the fight – tried introducing the bill during the Governor Chris Christie era, he “implied it would open the door for terrorists,” said the Democratic governor.

Boos filled the hall.

“Our administration is different,” Murphy said. “We honor and welcome our immigrant communities.”

Cheers rained.

Quijano made sure the crowd knew that Latinas in the Legislature made the difference, including her colleagues Ruiz, Senator Nellie Pou, and Senator Nilsa Cruz-Perez. She also thanked 32BJ SEIU and Kevin Brown, and former Chiefs of Staff (now with the Department of Labor) Julie Diaz and Justin Braz (now a member of Murphy’s inner circle).

“Over the years, some of the represenatives changed, but our core never did,” said Quijano, who honored too the many others who helped with the legislation, including her colleague state Senator Joe Vitale (D-19), prime sponsor of the assembly bill’s companion on the senate side.

In his and his father's law office, Mike Testa admires a book published in 1919 from the library built by his grandfather, the Honorable late Frank J. Testa.

From afar, state senator Michael Testa (R-1) expressed his continued opposition.

“New Jersey families take a backseat to illegal immigrants under the Murphy administration,” said the Republican lawmaker from Vineland who in November won his seat largely campaigning against Murphy’s policies, including driver’s licenses. “Trenton Democrats prioritized handouts for illegals over lowering our sky-high property taxes and properly funding schools for our children. I will continue to fight this lunacy and prioritize making New Jersey more affordable for the hard-working legal residents of our great state.”

Testa reminded peope that he voted against S-3229.

“First, it was college tuition aid for illegals, now its driver’s licenses. What’s next?” asked Testa. “This move is an insult to every law-abiding citizen of the Garden State. We need to get this state back on track and focus on what residents really want – a more affordable New Jersey.”

Ruiz also took a turn at the microphone.

“When you speak truth to power, you make sure on a day like today when it is bitter cold, you don’t have


to see mothers and fathers with children taking five buses to get to school,” said the senator. “This is not a new concept. It is the American concept.”

Ruiz praised Quijano and the support system of fellow lawmakers who built a movement in the chambers of power.

“It’s been over a decade and finally our mentality is changing,” the senator said.

“Thank you to everyone for your sweat and love,” she added.

Pou also spoke.

“I want to bring us back to the days when we were being asked to come forward and show our support and start speaking about the importance of having a driver’s license for our undocumented residents,” said the Passaic senator. “I remember how those discussions were in the rain, actually. Nothing was going to take away the strggle, the enthusiasm, the commitment to make sure we were going to get everyone on the same page of justice being done for everyone.


“I want to personally thank all of the advocates for coming out, for speaking, lobbying, marching,,, all of your stuggles,” she added. “We were there with you. Today is a historic day. I am so honored and grateful to be here today. Thank you, governor, for your commitment, for keeping your promise.”

21 votes in the senate.

42 votes in the assembly.

The work made the difference, she said.

Former Assemblywoman (now Commissioner of the Department of Banking and Insurance) Marlene Caride (D-36) even showed up to join her statehousse colleagues.

“Today we sent a message: in New Jersey, discrimination is not tolerated,” Caride said.

Also present: Asemblyman Gary Schaer (D-36) and Assemblyman Raj Mukherji (D-33).


Passed through the legislature on Monday to the governor’s desk and signed today, the law creates two categories of basic driver’s licenses, motorcycle licenses, probationary licenses, and non-driver identification cards.

A person may apply for a standard license or identification card or a REAL ID license or identification card.  A REAL ID license or identification card is to comply with the provisions of the federal “REAL ID Act of 2005,” any amendatory or supplementary acts, and any federal regulations adopted thereunder. Under the bill, the fee for a REAL ID license or identification card is greater than the fee for a standard license or identification card.

The law allows a New Jersey resident who meets requirements for the issuance of a license or identification, but who is unable to prove lawful presence in the United States to receive a standard license or identification card if the person provides satisfactory proof of identity and age, two documents providing proof of New Jersey residency, and proof of the person’s social security number.  If the person applying for a standard license or identification card does not have a social security number, the person is required to indicate, in a manner prescribed by the New Jersey Motor Vehicle Commission (MVC), that the person is not eligible to receive a social security number.

Make the Road earlier today launched a Spanish website to help non-legal resident Spanish-speakers learn the process by whih they can obtain driver’s licences.


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One response to “Murphy Signs into Law Historic Driver’s Licenses Bill”

  1. The entire hearing Trenton was a fiasco. They didn’t even let people who opposed it get up until 15 minutes before the entire committee had to leave. They are in the pockets of special interests and $$$ so they can award it to their friends, cronies and family members. Remember that two of the 911 hijackers had NJ licenses – DMV gave them licenses without checking their visa status. But you fellow citizens will have to prove 6 points of identification. The illegal aliens will not and you better believe some will lie to get the license and maybe even get two licenses under different names.

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