House Democrats introduced a bill Thursday that would allow illegal immigrants to obtain a Minnesota driver’s license.
State Rep. Aisha Gomez, DFL-Minneapolis, called the legislation a “simple, common-sense, and long overdue” proposal that will make Minnesota’s roads safer.
Under House File 1163, individuals would not be required to “demonstrate United States citizenship or lawful presence in the United States in order to obtain a noncompliant driver’s license or identification card.”
The same proposal passed the House in 2019, but was killed in the Republican-controlled Senate. Gomez called its passage “one of the most beautiful and powerful experiences” of her time in the Legislature.
“We have a nonfunctional immigration system at the federal level. Those without lawful status are part of our community. They’re driving their kids to school. They’re driving themselves to work. They’re getting groceries in their cars,” she said during a Thursday press conference.
Gomez argued that the bill would make Minnesota’s roads safer because it would require illegal immigrants to pass a driver’s exam, learn the rules of the road, and acquire insurance.
“This is just the right thing to do. It’s right for families, it’s right for businesses and it’s right for the general public safety and welfare of all those who drive on the roads of Minnesota,” she said.
House Majority Leader Ryan Winkler, DFL-Golden Valley, authored the bill along with 33 Democratic co-sponsors, including Gomez.
“We have been working on restoring the ability of Minnesotans of all immigrant backgrounds to have access to a driver’s license since it was removed in 2003 in the wake of 9/11 at a time when a Republican governor did not care about immigrant voices,” said Winkler.
He said there are 30,000 kids in Minnesota who are U.S. citizens but their parents don’t have legal status, meaning these kids don’t have someone to drive them to school and other events.
Winkler said illegal immigrants are “providing a huge benefit to Minnesota and we are treating them miserably.”
He also noted that the Catholic Church in Minnesota has expressed support for the bill. At a 2019 press conference, Archbishop Bernard Hebda called the bill an “important human rights test” and said the Church sees it as “closely related to the question of dignity of human life.”