Immigrant Rights Groups Push Lawmakers to Deliver on Driver’s Licenses

With their patience wearing thin, activists want movement on a bill that would create a license for immigrants without legal status and other unauthorized residents

Patience is wearing thin for immigrant rights advocates who have been putting pressure on lawmakers to pass a stalled bill that would expand driver’s license access to immigrants without legal status and other unauthorized residents.

The push comes as the Legislature prepares to break for summer, and as U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement operations have netted hundreds of arrests in New Jersey this spring alone.

New Jersey is home to an estimated 466,000 unauthorized immigrants of driving age.

The bill would create two types of driver’s licenses — one that complies with the federal Real ID Act and another strictly for driving that would be accessible to immigrants without legal status, others without documentation and certain senior citizens.

Critics argue the bill prioritizes unauthorized immigrants above everyone else, adding that if someone is in the United States without legal status, they shouldn’t be afforded a legal document.

When reached for comment, a spokesperson for Assembly Speaker Craig Coughlin (D-Middlesex) said the bill is still being reviewed. There is no word on whether he plans to post it for a vote before the end of June.