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The state Senate Transportation Committee will consider driver’s licenses for undocumented workers at a scheduled Dec. 12th hearing, three days after a Dec. 9th hearing on the same issue by the Assembly Judiciary Committee.
It is expected to go to the full body in both the senate and the assembly at one of two sessions before the end of the year. “I’m totally supportive of this,” said Senate Transportation Committee Chairman Pat Diegnan (D-18). “These are folks trying to do the right thing.”
Diegnan (pictured, above) expects the bill to pass in the senate this year.
“I have to presume we have the votes to get it through,” said the senator from South Plainfield.
Senator Joe Vitale (D-19) – slate mate of Speaker Craig Coughlin (D-19) – authored the senate version of
the bill slated to go before Diegnan’s committee on Dec. 12th. The senator from Woodbridge told InsiderNJ that his bill would enable non-citizens to obtain driver’s licenses through the same procedures as anyone else.
“This is for people who cannot obtain or want a REAL ID license,” Vitale said.
The license will be for driving only, and individuals will still have to prove residency – just not citizenship. Like Diegnan, Vitale said he believes the senate will pass his bill, and he expects the governor to sign it before the end of the year.
A contentious issue, backers of the bill do not expect to have the support of Republicans.
Due for a Dec. 2nd swearing-in, state Senator Mike Testa (R-1) campaigned against driver’s licenses for undocumented workers in his statement-making Nov. 5th win.
Senator Bob Singer (R-30) of Lakewood sits on the Transportation Committee.
“I’m not supportive of it,” he told InsiderNJ. “We’re giving legitimacy to those who are not here legitimately. How does that help anything? I’m not saying there shouldn’t be a path to citzenship, but let the federal government clean it up.
“I’m a ‘no’ vote, period,” added the veteran Republican senator from Ocean County.
Republicans said they were bothered, too, that Coughlin told activists he would address the issue after the 2019 general election. Rattled by closer than expected otcomes last month, battleground Democrats are also expected to receive a stiff test by this vote.
“We are encouraged to hear legislators finally commit publicly to putting the bill up for a vote, but we know the fight is not over,” said driver’s license advocacy group Cosecha in a statement. “Dozens of marches, pilgrimages and hunger strikes have brought us to this point, and we will continue to organize until this bill is signed into law. Immigrants in New Jersey have been waiting for decades for legislators to make good on their promises to our community, and we know that the only way we will win drivers licenses for our community is by building a powerful movement of immigrant workers and families.”
This bill 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, 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.
In addition to requiring an applicant to submit satisfactory proof of identity and age, an applicant for a REAL ID license or identification card is required to submit two documents providing satisfactory proof of New Jersey residency, proof of the applicant’s social security number or verification of ineligibility for a social security number in accordance with the “REAL ID Act of 2005,” and proof that the applicant’s presence in the United States is authorized under federal law.
The bill requires a standard license or identification card to indicate that the license or identification card is not to be accepted as identification for an official federal purpose and is to bear a unique design or color to indicate that the license or identification card is not to be accepted for an official federal purpose. An official federal purpose includes but is not limited to accessing federal facilities, boarding federally regulated commercial aircraft, and entering nuclear power plants.