PATERSON, NJ - Mayor Andre Sayegh has voiced his support for a proposed state law allowing undocumented immigrants to obtain driver's licenses.
On Tuesday, November 27, state legislators introduced a bill permitting these immigrants to get licenses because many of them are already currently driving on New Jersey roads.
Sayegh joined mayors from six other municipalities in hailing the measure.
"The proposed legislation for a standard basic driver's license is a common sense solution for the numerous Patersonians who need a driver's licenses to provide and care for their families,” Sayegh said.
The bill, co-sponsored by Senator Nellie Pou (D-Passaic), will give nearly half a million potentially qualified New Jersey drivers access to licenses, and will, Sayegh said, protect the privacy of immigrants, senior citizens, the homeless, and survivors of domestic abuse while ensuring that all drivers can be trained, tested, and have access to insurance.
Others joining in support of the legislation are mayors of Elizabeth, Passaic, New Brunswick, Hoboken, Haledon, and Dover in Morris County.
Legislators say many undocumented immigrants drive cars daily to get to work and pickup children at schools, often driving unregistered and uninsured vehicles because they are unable to get a driver's license.
Allowing for the issuance of these licenses will also allow Paterson police to “focus on what matters and free up resources in courts and jails due to fewer unlicensed or uninsured drivers,” Sayegh added.
The legislation proposed two separate licenses, a Real ID license that New Jersey drivers, and drivers in other states, will need under the REAL ID Act of 2005, which was enacted after the 9/11 terror attacks, and a separate license and ID card for undocumented drivers.
Echoing comments both he and New Jersey Attorney General Gurbir Grewal made at two community meetings on Thursday that members of some communities are often fearful of interacting with law enforcement because of their immigration status, Sayegh added that under this legislation “Patersonians can go about their daily lives by driving to work, dropping their kids off at school, and visiting the doctor without fear.”
Our police can better focus on what matters and free up resources in courts and jails due to fewer unlicensed or uninsured drivers.
Know a story we should share with readers? Email editor Steve Lenox and tell him about it.