Immigrant rights advocates push lawmakers to expand access to driver’s licenses

Patience is wearing thin for immigrants’ rights advocates who have been putting pressure on lawmakers to pass a stalled bill that will 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, but research shows the state has more than 719,000 residents with limited or no access to a license.

The bill creates 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 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 says the bill is still being reviewed. No word if he plans to post it for a vote before the end of June.

We’re in this together
For a better-informed future. Support our nonprofit newsroom.
Donate to NJ Spotlight