Controversial bill allowing illegal immigrants to get Minnesota driver's licenses advances
"We would be able to take our children to a hospital without having the fear that somebody could take us away at that moment when our kids are in need," an illegal immigrant who supports the bill told the AP.
If DFLers on the House and Senate Transportation Policy Committees have their way, Minnesota will soon become the fifth state allowing illegal immigrants to obtain a driver's license.
Yesterday, on a party-line 10-7 vote, the Senate committee approved a bill to that end. The House committee approval a companion bill last week.
Supporters cite the public safety benefits such legislation would provide, while critics, such as our old friend Rep. Mary Kiffmeyer, R-Big Lake, are concerned the bill could open the door to voter fraud.
MPR backgrounds the proposal:
Current Department of Public Safety rules require applicants to furnish proof of identification using documents only citizens and lawful immigrants would possess.
An administrative rule change under the Pawlenty administration in 2003 added: "The department shall not issue a driver's license, permit, or identification card if an individual has no lawful admission status to the United States."
The bill now under consideration at the Legislature would allow identification issued by another country to be acceptable proof of identity.
The bill's chief author in the House is Rep. Karen Clark, D-Minneapolis. She's also one half of the tandem leading this session's push for marriage equality.
"When people do not have a driver's license, that means they do not have insurance. And we've had plenty of instances in Minnesota where people, you know, have a problem, have an accident," Clark told MPR. "They don't have insurance, everybody suffers. The whole community suffers. This is a public safety issue for the people involved but also for the whole community."
But Kiffmeyer expressed concern illegal immigrants could use driver's license to commit voter fraud.
The bill "raises grave concerns about these things happening," she said.
Indeed, according to an AP report, other states that allow illegal immigrants to obtain driver's licenses have encountered problems, including applicants frequently using false addresses to fulfill residency requirements.
On Twitter, one DFL supporter, looking forward to 2014, said he "can see the hit lit. from here" if the DFL continues to push the bill foward.
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