Driver’s licenses for undocumented immigrants sought in New Jersey

 Advocates on steps of the New Jersey Statehouse urge support for a measure that would expand driving privileges to immigrants. (Phil Gregory/for NewsWorks)

Advocates on steps of the New Jersey Statehouse urge support for a measure that would expand driving privileges to immigrants. (Phil Gregory/for NewsWorks)

Activists are urging New Jersey approval of a measure allowing undocumented immigrants to get a driver’s license.

The legislation would require the Motor Vehicle Commission to issue a license to drivers who meet the basic requirements but cannot prove they’re in the United States legally.

The move would help enhance public safety, said Sen. Nilsa Cruz-Perez.

“Now we’re going to have residents in New Jersey that have the proper insurance, that have the proper paperwork, that have taken the proper tests to pass and be driving in New Jersey,” said Cruz-Perez, D-Camden. “It’s going to create revenues for the state of New Jersey.”

Assemblyman Ron Dancer opposes the measure.

“It should not be about the revenues,” he said. “It’s homeland security.”

It would be unfair to grant a driver’s license to immigrants who cannot prove they’re in the U.S. legally while residents are required to provide six points of identification to get their license renewed, said Dancer, R-Ocean.

“To create a double standard for someone who cannot prove their lawful presence in the state of New Jersey is not justice,” he said.

Carlos Rojas, a community organizer for the group Faith in New Jersey, said not having a driver’s license keeps some immigrants from reporting crimes or acting as a witness in criminal investigations.

“It really creates a fear of law enforcement,” Rojas said. “So we would allow them to have this document that would declare them members of the community and it would restore that trust with law enforcement.”

Supporters are hoping lawmakers pass the bill by the end of the current legislative session. So far, neither the Senate nor Assembly has acted on it.

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