Lawmakers vote to let undocumented immigrants get MN driver's licenses

The Democrat-controlled state House approved a new bill on Friday.
Author:
Publish date:

A push to allow undocumented immigrants to obtain Minnesota driver's licenses has cleared a major legislative hurdle.

On Friday, the state House passed HF 1500, a bill that would amend the approval process for driver's licenses and identification cards.

According to the language of the measure, if approved, the new law would let a person "obtain a driver’s license or Minnesota identification card without providing proof of legal presence in the United States."

If it becomes law, it wouldn't exactly be new to Minnesota. Until a rule change in 2003, driver's licenses were obtainable by any state resident. 

A movement to restore this system was revived earlier this year by a coalition of Minnesota lawmakers (mostly Democratic), immigrants rights activists, unions, nonprofits and faith-based organizations.

The reason? Public safety is a big concern. One of the groups behind the movement, Freedom to Drive MN, says "Minnesotans are safer when more of the drivers on our roads are trained, tested, licensed, and insured" — something undocumented drivers are currently prohibited from.

As it's been pointed out before, statistics show unlicensed drivers are twice as likely to be involved in fatal crashes as those with valid licenses. 

Economics are another concern. One major supporter of the measure, Minnesota House Majority Leader Rep. Ryan Winkler, has said all Minnesotans "deserve to be able to work, live and take care of their families," adding that increasing access to driver's licenses would "grow the state economy."

There is plenty of opposition to the bill, however.

As the Pioneer Press notes, the measure passed mostly along party lines, "with all but a few Republicans voting against it" — many of whom slammed it as "an incentive for illegal immigration."

The GOP has also opposed licenses for undocumented immigrants over concerns about voter fraud, and has suggested it would be unfairly rewarding people who have flouted the law by coming to American illegally.

Friday's passage is the first step in what's likely to be a long journey for the legislation; according to the state legislature's website, there's still no companion bill in the Senate. 

Next Up

prison, Rush City cell block

Another Minnesota prison inmate dies after COVID-19 diagnosis

The virus has killed at least six Minnesota inmates.

leech lake band of ojibwe sign

11,760 acres of land wrongly taken from Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe will be returned

The Senate and now the House have passed a bill that effectively returns the land. It's now headed for the president's signature.

Karl-Anthony Towns

Timberwolves release first half of 2020-21 regular season schedule

The second half of the schedule will be announced at a later date.

reindeer como zoo

Watch live: Como Zoo's live reindeer cam is back for December

The live feed will run 24/7 allowing you to keep an eye on Santa's antlered helpers.

sleeping

Three simple ways to boost your immune health heading into winter

Eating right is one thing, but there are other ways to stay healthy as the days shorten.

Taylor Rogers

Why Twins fans shouldn't give up on Taylor Rogers

The Twins closer struggled in 2020 but could rebound next season.

Co. Rd. 2 crash, Wakefield Twp.

Teen driver leaves road, crashes into three trees

Fortunately, the 16-year-old was not injured.

mndot deer  tunnel 1

Minnesota is getting its first highway crossing for animals

This will provide a safe way for animals to cross the street, and hopefully limit deer-vehicle collisions.

Screen Shot 2020-12-04 at 11.00.30 AM

Money Gal Coaching: Habits of a millionaire, just in time for the holidays?

Kelly Blodgett started Money Gal Coaching after paying down nearly $50K in debt in 18 months.

Related

The latest on whether a MN driver's license will get you on a plane next year

The Minnesota House approved a Real ID bill Thursday but its differences with a Senate bill will need to be worked out.

flickr-mn-capitol-building-nov-2018

MN GOP calls on Walz to end emergency powers, work with legislature

They say they won't pass a new bonding bill until this happens.

Phillips and omar

How did Minnesota lawmakers vote on the border aid bill?

The House backed the Senate's bill funding aid at the border, drawing criticism from progressive Democrats.

MN lawmakers look to ban private prisons becoming ICE detention centers

A private prison in Appleton is currently in negotiations with ICE.

No solution in sight for the problems with Minnesota driver's licenses

There are 3 lines in the bill that Senate Democrats and Senate Republicans are arguing over.

'Driver's Licenses for All' campaign launched at the capitol

It would allow undocumented immigrants to obtain a driver's license in Minnesota.

Nationwide outage impacting Minnesota driver's license applications

The outage on Monday morning affected services across the country.