“My kids were terrified to see the police,” testified Nadia Gonzales, a resident of Nashua who immigrated from Mexico. Gonzalez joined advocates in support of H.B. 1463 at a public meeting earlier this month hosted by the Transportation Committee of New Hampshire House of Representatives.
Local immigrants’ rights organizations in favor of three bills primarily sponsored Rep. George Sykes from Lebanon (D) say H.B. 1463, 1666, and 1093 would make roads safer for all motorists.
“A person can be in New Hampshire 100 percent legally but can be waiting for their papers for over a year because of bureaucratic delays,” said Sarah Knoy, American Friends Service Committee. “A warning became a nightmare for this family. Those children still today are terrified when they see a police officer. She’s back at home now, but the trauma lingers,” Knoy testified about an immigrant woman detained by ICE after a speeding ticket.
H.B. 1463 proposes a Real ID type of driver’s license allowing people to travel inside the U.S without a passport.
If approved, H.B. 1666 would prohibit the New Hampshire Department of Motor Vehicles from sharing personal information with immigration enforcement agencies.
H.B. 1093 would permit nonresidents living in New Hampshire to obtain a 180-day temporary driver’s license while waiting on their asylum status application.
The committee doesn’t have a date to vote yet.
In Massachusetts, the House of Representatives passed a bill that would allow undocumented immigrants to get driver’s licenses.
“This is a public safety bill,” said State Rep. Andy Vargas of H.B. 4461. “It’s about making sure we keep all of our communities safe, that we have drivers that are licensed that go through the right process.”
The bill requires individuals provide documentation to obtain a license including proof of their identity, residency in the state and date of birth. The new rules would apply to those who do not have proof they are in the country legally, including those not eligible for a Social Security number.
The House voted 120-36 in favor of the measure on February 16. The bill still requires approval by the Massachusetts Senate, before heading to Governor Baker.
Undocumented immigrants in 16 other states, including Connecticut and Vermont, are already able to get a driver’s license.
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