Letter to the Editor: Undocumented immigrants should be eligible for driver’s licenses

Daily Hampshire Gazette, July 30, 2019. By Philip Korman, Executive Director, and Claire Morenon, Communications Manager of CISA.

At CISA, we are committed to strengthening local farms and to building a fair and just local food economy that serves everyone, including the people who work on farms. The Pew Research Center estimated in 2018 that 24 percent of farm workers in the United States are undocumented immigrants — people who work long and difficult hours to plant and harvest our food, who live in and contribute to local communities and who are commonly denied any pathway to legal residency.

For decades, national leaders have done nothing to acknowledge the contributions of farmworkers, who are vital to our local food system. In this extreme political environment, those of us with legal protections must advocate for our undocumented neighbors and friends who live in fear of arrest, separation from their families and deportation.

Massachusetts can take one practical step toward acknowledging our reliance on the more than 200,000 undocumented immigrants who live in the state. We can afford them the basic right to obtain driver’s licenses, as 13 other states, including Connecticut, Vermont, and New York, have already done.

Why is this a good idea? Because undocumented immigrants need to drive to their jobs, where they pay taxes but will never see Social Security. Because undocumented immigrants need to live their lives, raise children and feed their own families, and permitting access to driver’s licenses is a way to extend a modicum of humanity to their daily lives. And studies have shown that this change makes the roads safer for everybody.

On Tuesday, July 30, advocates are going to Boston to lobby elected officials to support the Work and Family Mobility Act (S.2061/H.3012). You can join them in Boston or call your legislators to demonstrate your support for this bill. Look for “Driving Families Forward” on Facebook for details on this statewide campaign.

Philip Korman
Claire Morenon