This month Minnesota became the latest state to allow illegal immigrants to get a driver’s license as part of a burgeoning national trend to reward undocumented residents with government benefits. In all, 19 states and the District of Columbia have passed bills that permit foreigners living in the U.S. illegally to obtain driver’s licenses. Earlier this year laws went into effect in Massachusetts and Rhode Island and a few weeks ago Minnesota’s measure, known as Driver’s Licenses for All, went into effect. Officials estimate that about 80,000 illegal immigrants who were previously disqualified from obtaining the cards in the North Star state will now be allowed to get them.
California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Maryland, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, and Washington are the other states that let illegal aliens get driver’s licenses. Typically, candidates need only to present a foreign passport or birth certificate or a consular card along with evidence that they live in the state. Open border groups and their leftist allies in local governments across the nation assert that granting illegal aliens driver’s licenses benefits everyone because it makes roads safer, therefore improving public safety. In New York City, officials cite unspecified “data” that shows expanding driver’s license eligibility to illegal immigrants improves road safety and lowers insurance premiums for all. Besides “making our roads safer,” Illinois’ governor says giving illegal aliens licenses decreases stigma and creates a more equitable system for all.
Minnesota officials used similar narratives to push through their legislation. The governor, Tim Walz, said ensuring that drivers are licensed and carry insurance makes the roads more secure for all Minnesotans. “As a longtime supporter of this bill, I am proud to finally sign it into law, making our roads safer and moving us toward our goal of making Minnesota the best state to raise a family for everyone,” the Democrat lawmaker said in a statement when he proudly signed the measure earlier this year. The state’s lieutenant governor explained that the new law makes sure children and families “can come out of the shadows” and that all residents have opportunities to thrive, succeed, grow, and live their fullest lives. “From picking a child up from school to driving to a doctor’s appointment, driver’s licenses help us safely access essential services and navigate our lives,” the lieutenant governor, Penny Flanagan, said.
Under the new law Minnesota’s Department of Vehicle Services (DVS) is prohibited from asking driver’s license applicants about immigration status or from placing any special identifier on the card indicating immigration status. The state agency is also banned from providing information to federal authorities for the purpose of civil immigration enforcement. Additionally, Minnesota is taking extra steps to assist illegal aliens obtain a license. Applicants can take the test in nine different languages and the actual exam can be given orally by a translator in the person’s native language to assist those who have difficulty comprehending the written test or who may be illiterate. Driving manuals are also available in multiple languages as well as interpreters to guide foreigners through the road skills test. It is not clear how much the extra services will cost taxpayers.
It is important to note that earlier this year Minnesota enacted a law that provides automatic voter registration for those who apply for a driver’s license, even though the law requires U.S. citizenship to vote. Granting illegal immigrants driver’s licenses inevitably creates the risk that they may vote in an election since the state will not distinguish between the cards issued to legal residents, American citizens or illegal aliens. At least one state lawmaker finds this concerning and points out that “allowing an undocumented immigrant to acquire a driver’s license that looks exactly like a license used by a legal Minnesota resident is asking for trouble.” The Republican, House member John Petersburg, says there are no safeguards in the new law, which means the potential is high for voting and state program abuse.