Minnesota Legislature Hearing Drivers License for All Bill
ST. PAUL (WJON News) -- A bill being introduced this week in both the Minnesota House and Senate would allow undocumented workers to apply for a driver's license.
Ryan Allen is the Associated Dean of Research for the Humphrey School of Public Affairs. He has studied this topic and the potential impact it could have on the state.
He says they have found about two-thirds of undocumented immigrants that work are driving to their jobs. It doesn't matter where they live, there is a high rate of driving for undocumented immigrants.
He says that causes a few potential problems.
The first is if you don't have a license you haven't demonstrated as far as the state is concerned that you understand the rules of the road. We offer a driving test for a reason, we want to make sure people understand how to be safe drivers.
He says another issue is people who are driving without a license likely don't have insurance either.
One of the things we know about states that don't allow undocumented immigrants to apply for driver's licenses they tend to have higher rates of insurance. That's linked to unlicensed drivers probably.
Stearns County Sheriff Steve Soyka says he'd like to see a requirement for driver's school and testing.
The reality is that a majority of these parties are probably driving anyways for work purposes and to have them properly licensed with proper training just increases the safety for everyone involved.
Laura Borderlon of the Minnesota Chamber of Commerce says employers rely on immigrant workers and many of them work some distance from home.
Over 20 states allow undocumented immigrants to apply for a driver's license.
The best estimate on the number of undocumented immigrants in Minnesota is under 100,000 people.
Republican State Representative John Petersburg is on the House transportation committee. He says,
Allowing an undocumented immigrant to acquire a driver’s license that looks exactly like the license used by a legal Minnesota resident is asking for trouble. There are no safeguards included in this bill, which means the potential for voting and state program abuse is strong. If the goal is to just let undocumented people have driving privileges, then there should be no objection to making the license reflect their undocumented status.
The Minnesota House Transportation Committee hosted a hearing Tuesday morning. There's a hearing on the bill Wednesday afternoon in the Senate Transportation Committee.