Listen to audio version of this article
Trenton lawmakers today voted in favor of enabling undocumented residents of New Jersey to obtain driver’s licenses.
The Assembly vote was 42-30-5.
The Senate vote on its version (S-3229) occurred after 4 p.m. The vote was 21-17-2. Democratic senators Turner (D) and Lagana (D) didn’t vote. Senator Addiego (D) opposed the bill. Senator Madden (D) voted no. All GOP members voted against it.
In the Assembly, the Democratic Party opponents of the bill were:
Armato and Mazzeo in LD2, Houghtaling in LD11, Moriarty and Mosquera in LD4.
Swain and Tully in LD38 abstained. So did Karibinchak in LD18, Land in LD1, and DeAngelo in LD14.
Milam (LD1) was absent. So was Gordon Johnson (LD37).
The gallery immediately burst into loud applause from those champions of the bill.
“Please,” said Speaker Craig Coughlin (D-19). “Please. Please.”
Numerous Republicans expressed their opposition to A-4743, sponsored in the Assembly by Judiciary Committee Chair Annette Quijano (D-20).
Their party members to a person voted against the bill.
Vociferously opposed in committee, Assemblyman Erik Peterson (R-23) tried to delay a vote on the bill.
Assembly Majority Leader Lou Greenwald (D-6) moved to table the motion.
Assemblywoman Hal Wirths (R-24) likewise expressed his opposition to the bill.
“I certainly hope the majority votes no but I [don’t think that will happen],” Wirths griped.
A skeptical Assemblywoman Holly Schepisi (R-39) questioned Quijano on the bill.
“I really don’t think people are going to come to New Jersey just for a driver’s license,” the Elizabeth Assemblywoman said in response.
Schepisi lingered on language in the bill, wondering if an anti-discrimination clause in the bill is designed specifically to open the doors for litigation.
She bantered with Coughlin.
“There is potential litigation there,” said Assembly Minority Leader Jon Bramnick (R-21), in Schepisi’s defense.
Coughlin offered a public statement on the legislation after it passed.
“The legislation advanced on the Assembly floor and by the Senate today is fair and responsible,” the speaker said. “It brings us one-step closer to ensuring all motor vehicles and drivers are insured thereby creating safer roadways for all New Jersey residents.
“I thank bill sponsor and Assembly Judiciary Committee chairwoman Annette Quijano for her hard work and leadership on this issue.”
According to the language in the bill, A-4743 creates two categories of basic driver’s licenses, motorcycle licenses, probationary licenses, and non-driver identification cards (hereinafter referred to collectively as licenses and identification cards).
Under the bill passed by the Judiciary Committee, 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 bill 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.
“This victory belongs to our immigrant brothers and sisters from across New Jersey who have fought so hard for so many years to be able to drive,” said Abril Hernandez, member of Make the Road NJ. “With this win, we are making New Jersey safer and more welcoming for all, and recognizing the contributions of immigrants to our state. We thank all of our sponsors, especially Assemblywoman Quijano, Assemblyman Schaer, and Senators Vitale, Ruiz, Cryan, Pou and Cruz-Perez.”
For Cosecha’s full sattement in response to the news, please go here.
The bill, S-3229/A-4743, was sponsored by Senator Joseph Vitale, Senate President Pro Tempore M. Teresa Ruiz, Senator Nilsa Cruz- Perez and Chair of the Hispanic Legislative Caucus Senator Nellie Pou.
The two categories of basic driver’s licenses, motorcycle licenses, probationary licenses, and non-driver identification cards are as follows:
1) Standard License: would require proof of residency in New Jersey, proof of age, and their social security number. If the individual does not have a social security number, the bill would permit them to submit their individual Tax Identification Number (“ITIN”), or indicate that they are ineligible for a social security number in a manner prescribed the Motor Vehicle Commission (“MVC”).
2) REAL ID License: would require proof of residency in New Jersey, proof of age, proof of the applicant’s social security number and proof that the applicant’s presence in the United States is authorized under federal law. Most significantly, a REAL ID license would comply with the federal “REAL ID Act of 2005” (“REAL ID Act”). The REAL ID Act requires applicants to submit more documentation than is currently required to obtain a driver’s license in New Jersey. New Jersey driver’s licenses would be required to meet the requirements set by the Act to be accepted for any federal “official purpose,” such as accessing federal government facilities or boarding domestic flights. The federal Act also requires the MVC to store copies or scanned images of the personal documents applicants submit for a period of 7-10 years.
“Everyone benefits from safer roads,” said Senator Vitale (D-Middlesex). “When more people are able to be trained, tested and buy insurance, it reduces risk for everyone. This bill is not only the right thing to do for our residents, it is the responsible thing to do for our state.”
“This legislation is going to be life changing for thousands of families across New Jersey. It is incredible to imagine the impact it will have on the 168,000 children with undocumented parents and over 400,000 undocumented immigrants of driving age. These are mothers and fathers striving to make a better life for their children. It is extremely difficult to navigate this state without a car and like every New Jerseyan, they have jobs to get to, children to drop off at school and lives to live,” said Senator Ruiz (D-Essex). “Not only will this bill make our roads safer, it will also positively impact our economy and workforce. Other states that have approved similar legislation have seen a significant decrease in car insurance premiums and hit-and-run accidents. We expect to see the same here.”
“This legislation breaks down barriers that are holding back hardworking men and women trying to ensure their family’s financial security and provide opportunities to their children that were not afforded to them,” said Senator Cruz-Perez (D-Camden/Gloucester). “Getting behind the wheel is a privilege that is often assumed in the commonality of our daily lives, but for the undocumented community residing in New Jersey, access to the roadways offers is a path to new opportunities and an improved quality of life. This legislation will be transformative for families across the state.”
“This is a historic day, and I grateful to everyone who has advocated and fought for this legislation, without their dedication, persistence and patience this would never have become a reality. Not only will this make our roadways safer, it is going to immediately impact the quality of life of over half a million tax paying and contributing residents of our state,” said Senator Pou (D-Bergen/Passaic). “Through this legislation and regulatory approach, we will make our roads safer and boost our economy but more importantly, we will provide for a fair mechanism to empowering all communities here in New Jersey. I look forward to the Governor signing this bill into law.”
Under the bill, any documents and personal information obtained by the MVC from an applicant for a standard license or identification card is confidential and is not to be considered a government record.
- Annette Quijano
- Bruce Land
- Chris Tully
- Craig Coughlin
- Dawn Marie Addiego
- driver's licenses
- Eric Houghtaling
- Erik Peterson
- Fred Madden
- Gabriela Mosquera
- Gordon Johnson
- Hal Wirths
- Holly Schepisi
- Joe Lagana
- John Armato
- Jon Bramnick
- Lisa Swain
- Louis Greenwald
- Matt Milam
- Paul Moriarty
- Robert Karabinchak
- Shirley Turner
- Vince Mazzeo
- Wayne DeAngelo
Click here for the full Insider Index