Massachusetts voters will get the prospect to come to a decision whether the state should reject a latest law allowing immigrants within the country illegally to acquire state driver’s licenses.
The secretary of the commonwealth’s office announced late Friday that it had certified the signatures needed to place repeal of the law on the November ballot.
The measure became law after the Democrat-controlled Massachusetts House and Senate overrode a veto by Republican Gov. Charlie Baker in June.
With the override, Massachusetts joined 16 other states and the District of Columbia which have similar laws.
The push to repeal the brand new law is being led largely by the state Republican Party.
The law was a win for immigrant rights groups that had long pushed for the measure, framing it partly as a public preventive measure, noting that those looking for the licenses can have to indicate they’ll properly operate a automotive and get insurance within the event of an accident.
Maureen Maloney, whose son Matthew Denice was killed in 2011 after being struck and dragged by a driver within the country illegally, helps lead the repeal effort.
“It’s plain and straightforward: giving Massachusetts driver’s licenses to illegal immigrants is a foul idea,” Maloney, who heads up the group Fair and Secure Massachusetts, said in a recent email. “We’re a rustic of rules and laws, and people rules and laws have to be followed if we’re to live in harmony together.”
Maloney said the brand new law places an undue burden on the Registry of Motor Vehicles; hurts the integrity of state elections by making a backdoor for noncitizens to vote; and offers licenses to people within the country illegally, possibly resulting in more unnecessary deaths.
Backers of the brand new law say it’s going to make the roads safer for everybody.
“The Work and Family Mobility Act will mean that each one drivers — no matter immigration status — would follow the identical rules of the road, pass the identical road test, and possess the identical insurance requirements,” said Elizabeth Sweet, executive director of the Massachusetts Immigrant and Refugee Advocacy Coalition.
“While it’s disappointing that partisan forces are looking for to overturn this law and put public safety in danger to attain low-cost political points, our broad coalition is prepared for the talk and campaign ahead,” she added in a written statement.
The query is a degree of contention within the state’s upcoming gubernatorial election.
Republican candidate Geoff Diehl has championed the repeal effort — arguing partly that the state Registry of Motor Vehicles isn’t equipped to confirm the identities of immigrants within the country illegally.
Attorney General Maura Healey, the Democratic candidate for governor, has said she supports allowing eligible undocumented residents to receive state driver’s licenses, no matter immigration status.
Baker, in his veto letter to lawmakers, argued the brand new law would significantly increase the danger that noncitizens can be registered to vote, fears that supporters say are overblown partly because those using the licenses to register to vote could find yourself facing deportation.
Under the brand new law, those within the country illegally will have the option to use for a driver’s license in the event that they can provide the Registry of Motor Vehicles with a foreign passport or consular identification document.
They may even have to offer one among five additional documents: a driver’s license from one other U.S. state or territory; a birth certificate; a foreign national identification card; a foreign driver’s license; or a wedding certificate or divorce decree from any U.S. state or territory.
The brand new law is about to take effect July 1, 2023.