Voters in Massachusetts may be asked whether to repeal state law granting standard Massachusetts driver’s licenses to undocumented immigrants in November.
In February 2022, the Massachusetts House of Representatives passed a bill to allow undocumented immigrants to apply for standard Massachusetts driver’s licenses. The bill was then passed by the Massachusetts Senate and vetoed by Governor Charlie Baker. The House and Senate overrode the veto, and the law is set to go into effect on July 1, 2023.
Proponents believe such a law “will improve road safety and assuage immigrants’ worries of being revealed as undocumented and face deportation because of a routine traffic stop of accident.” Other advocacy groups note that it will enable undocumented individuals who work and pay taxes to buy groceries, bring children to school, and access healthcare.
But opponents are still fighting the legislation. Groups are working to place a referendum question for the November elections. Signatures are being gathered to repeal the law. Opponents have various reasons for wanting to repeal the legislation, but they are particularly motivated by a fear that those who receive driver’s licenses will be registered to vote – even though the law states that “people without legal immigration status will not be registered to vote as a result of getting a driver’s license.”
Massachusetts Secretary of State William Galvin will be reviewing the signature petitions to verify that the needed 40,000-signature threshold for a referendum is met. Proponents of the legislation believe that, even if it the question gets onto the ballot, the majority of registered voters support the bill.
Jackson Lewis attorneys will provide updates as they become available.