As the legislature resumes for the Fall, local leaders are calling on New Jersey’s Leadership to move forward on bills A-4743/S-3229 that would expand access to driver’s licenses to more residents.
New Brunswick, NJ–(Monday, September 9th): Outside of City Hall in New Brunswick, Middlesex County’s largest and most immigrant-rich city, local Leaders including New Brunswick Mayor Cahill, joined Dreamers and clergy to call for immediate action to expand access to driver’s licenses to all qualified drivers, regardless of immigration status.
More than 719,000 residents in the state continue to lack access to driver’s licenses severely impacting mobility and access to basic necessities. Additionally, at least 168,000 New Jersey children have parents who cannot access a driver’s license because of their immigration status.
Of the 100,000 immigrant youth or “Dreamers” in New Jersey who came to the United States as children and would qualify for the Dream Act, 17,400 are DACA recipients. DACA provides protection from deportation, work authorization, and the ability to apply for a driver’s license in New Jersey. The Trump Administration’s end of the DACA program in 2017 meant that more than 80,000 Dreamers could never apply for DACA — or a driver’s license. All Dreamers and DACA recipients will lose their access to a driver’s license if the Supreme Court terminates DACA.
In his letters to Senate President Sweeney and Assembly Speaker Coughlin, Rutgers University President Robert Barchi urged the legislative leadership to place legislation A-4743/S-3229 up for a vote as soon as possible in particular because of the importance to Rutgers DACA recipients, many of whom commute to classes at the University.
Access to driver’s licenses remains one the most critical policies on the New Jersey legislature’s voting agenda. Pending legislation A4743/S3229 would allow expanded access to state-issued standard driver’s licenses to all qualified drivers regardless of immigration status.
Participating groups included New Labor, 32BJ SEIU, Make the Road New Jersey, UndocuRutgers, New Jersey Alliance for Immigrant Justice, American Friends Service Committee – Immigrant Rights Project, Wind of the Spirit-Immigrant Resource Center, Highland Park Reformed Church, Unity Square, and Esperanza Neighborhood Project.
New Brunswick Mayor Cahill said,
“Denial of a driver’s license negatively impacts our immigrant residents, survivors of domestic violence, the formerly incarcerated, and our LGBTQ community. The barriers in place make this otherwise routine process difficult and needlessly cumbersome. Expanding access to driver’s licenses to all New Jersey residents, would make the state’s roads safer and its economy stronger by bringing in tens of millions of dollars in recurring revenue for the
State. One thing is certain, we are all safer when more qualified drivers are licensed, tested and insured. It makes sense for New Jersey. It makes sense for all of us.”
Raquel Herrera, Dreamer, Mother, 32BJ Commercial Building Cleaner
“I came to the US when I was just 13 years old. DACA gave me the chance to provide for myself and my family. As a mother of two young children, having a driver’s license is vital to providing for my children and ensuring they are thriving. If DACA is terminated, I will lose my access to a driver’s license and will no longer be able to put food on the table for my kids.”
Reynalda Cruz with New Labor said,
“Immigrant families are already paying taxes. New Jersey will benefit even more with expanded access to driver’s licenses. More revenue will be created as more people will be purchasing cars and insurance. More revenue will be created through automotive upkeep every time we buy gas or go to the mechanic. More revenue will be created through fees collected for license and registration. We can choose to all be winners and move our state forward, or be satisfied with millions of dollars lost.”
Rabbi Maya Glasser, Assistant Rabbi at Anshe Emeth Memorial Temple in New Brunswick, NJ said,
¨The Torah commands us not to place a stumbling block before the blind (Leviticus 19:14). With this prohibition, our sacred text reminds us that vulnerable populations exist, and it is our holy obligation to not inhibit those populations even more. The same goes for those vulnerable people seeking drivers licenses; each of them is committed to carrying out the daily tasks that we take for granted, and contributing to society, yet by denying them this basic privilege, we are placing an obstacle in front of them. As a Jewish leader, I strongly believe that every person who desires a license should be able to have one. Rather than placing a stumbling block before those who want to succeed, Judaism teaches that we should lift them up and treat them as equals. Only when we do so can we form a more just society, where everyone has equal opportunity. In doing so, we strengthen everyone.¨
Jun Choi, Founding Board Member with Jersey Promise said,
“We are a nation and state built on immigration. Expanding access to driver’s licenses to all qualified residents, regardless of immigration status, is a major economic development accelerator — in a state that has been lagging behind in economic growth in recent decades. This access will improve the lives of all New Jerseyans, and jumpstart an economy that can sorely use it. We urge the Legislature to move forward with this legislation.”