Hundreds of immigrant rights advocates on Wednesday pressed Massachusetts lawmakers to change the law to allow undocumented immigrants to obtain drivers licenses.
The hearing room was standing room only and both sides offered impassioned testimony.
The sponsor of the bill, Rep. Tricia Farley-Bouvier of Pittsfield, argued changing the law would allow people to commute without fear and decrease the number of uninsured drivers on the road.
“This is a bill about public safety and this is a bill about fairness,” Farley-Bouvier said. “We all know that roads are safer if those on it are trained, licensed and insured.”
Opponents like Bristol County Sherriff Thomas Hodgson said granting drivers licenses to undocumented immigrants would condone illegal behavior.
“This bill would effectively suggest that for those who violate the law, it doesn’t matter,” Hodgson said. “That you will be able to access the same privileges that those who are able to abide the laws are able to access.”
Ten states, including Vermont and Connecticut, have passed laws to issue driver’s licenses to undocumented immigrants.