N.J. is urged to issue licenses to undocumented immigrants for safety, income

Advocates are urging New Jersey to follow the lead of 11 other states and grant driving privileges to undocumented residents.

The right to drive a car should not be conditioned on immigration status, said Udi Ofer, executive director of the Civil Liberties Union of New Jersey.

“Doing so causes thousands of New Jerseyans to have to make daily decisions about either failing to meet their basic needs — such as buying food, going to the doctor’s office, or dropping off kids in school — driving without a license and risking arrest,” said Ofer during a hearing before legislators.

Advocates say having undocumented residents take a road test to obtain a license would make the roads safer.

It would also help New Jersey’s economy, said Erika Nava with New Jersey Policy Perspective.

“The state would generate at least $5million in license fees. About 209 million will be generated in insurance premium payments,” she said. “It will also be able to hold insurance payments down because more people will be in the insurance pool.”

A bill to allow undocumented residents to drive legally has been introduced in the legislature, but no action has been taken.

Assembly Speaker Vinnie Prieto, who said it’s a concept he’s been considering, wants to learn how other states are doing it before posting a bill for a vote.

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