Expanding driver’s license access would make New Jersey safer, fairer

More than 100 people marched in Trenton today to support legislation that would give access to New Jersey driver’s licenses to undocumented immigrants, formerly incarcerated people, domestic violence survivors, homeless people, senior citizens, and others who face barriers to getting state ID.

The morning march and rally afterward at the Trenton War Memorial was organized by Let’s Drive NJ, a statewide coalition of almost 70 community groups, including Catholic Charities, Diocese of Trenton. See a photo gallery of images from the march here.

Twelve states and Washington, D.C., already have expanded license access to qualified drivers, regardless of immigration status.

What the bills would do

In New Jersey, legislation is pending that would create two categories of driver’s licenses and identification cards. The legislation would enable undocumented immigrants and others to get a “standard license,” while also creating a federally-compliant Real ID license. The federal REAL ID Act of 2005 passed in response to the 9/11 terror attacks, but some states, including New Jersey, haven’t yet come into compliance. (Under the pending legislation, undocumented immigrants wouldn’t be eligible for a Real ID.)

Advocates say undocumented immigrants and others now ineligible for licenses already drive on the roads anyway, so giving them access to licenses will make the roads safer by ensuring they insure and register their vehicles.

Catholic Charities supports the legislation.

“We support expanding access for driver’s licenses because it is simply the smart thing to do. This will ensure that individuals on the road will be tested, trained, insured and held accountable for their driving record,” said Marlene Laó-Collins, Catholic Charities’ executive director (pictured, right).

She urged supporters to contact their lawmakers to ask them to vote for the bills.

A stronger and fairer New Jersey

Advocates from Our Lady of Hope Parish in Blackwood, N.J., and the Shrine of St. Joseph in Stirling, N.J., were among those who marched in Trenton today. Gov. Phil Murphy has backed expanding access to driver’s licenses to undocumented immigrants too.

“Allowing our undocumented immigrant community to obtain driver’s licenses is a critical step to help build a stronger and fairer New Jersey for all,” he told the North Jersey Record last month. “This policy will make our roads safer for all drivers and also stimulate the economy.”

For help

Catholic Charities, Diocese of Trenton offers many services to immigrants and the Latino community. For details, call our Access, Help and Information Center at (800) 360-7711.

For more information: Dana DiFilippo, communications, (609) 394-5181, ext. 1153.

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