Immigrant advocates: Driver’s license expansion would generate millions

The state is leaving millions of dollars on the table by barring unauthorized immigrants from obtaining driver’s licenses.

That’s the argument from immigrant rights group Make the Road, which has been calling for New Jersey to join 12 other states and Washington, D.C. in expanding access to driver’s licenses.

The group cites a new analysis from New Jersey Policy Perspective, NJPP, that projects offering driver’s licenses to unauthorized immigrants would generate $21 million over three years in revenue from permit, title and driver’s license fees — plus millions more in taxes from the purchase of vehicles, auto parts and gas.

NJPP estimates that 222,000 out of some 466,000 unauthorized immigrants of driving age estimated to be living in New Jersey would obtain a driver’s license during that three-year time period.

Advocates argue that expanding driver’s license access would increase highway safety and allow unauthorized immigrants to participate more fully in the state economy.

Lawmakers introduced a bill in November that would allow unauthorized immigrants to apply for special driver’s licenses, but the measure hasn’t been put up for a vote.