Should illegal immigrants be given driver licenses? - abc27 WHTM

Should illegal immigrants be given driver licenses?

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Dozens of undocumented immigrants and other activists held a rally at the Capitol Wednesday, urging lawmakers to consider a measure to allow anyone living in the state to obtain a driver's license regardless of immigration status.

House Bill 1648 is co-sponsored by Rep. Mark Cohen (D-202nd) and Rep. Patty Kim (D-103rd). Under the measure, anyone with a tax identification number could apply for a PennDOT-issued ID. They would not need a Social Security number.

"If you have a tax ID, which these folks have, you are paying taxes, you are paying your money to the government," Kim said. "So, I think in return, they should be able to have a drivers license to go about driving legally and keeping the roads safer."

Many House Republicans, however, are not on board.

"There is a process and until Washington figures out a better way to do it, that's the process we have," said Steve Miskin, press secretary for the house majority leader. "Each state, though, should not be putting together its own rule and own laws about who to let and then who should we license and who shouldn't we license."

Kim said PennDOT used to allow tax identification numbers as means to obtain a license, but tightened the standards in 2002 -- just a year after the September 11th attacks. She and other activists believe allowing undocumented immigrants to apply for a legal ID will make the roads safer for everyone, and allow everyone to rent homes, apply for jobs and sign up for public utilities.

There are currently between 150,000 and 200,000 undocumented immigrants living in Pennsylvania. Activists estimate this measure would generate $2-4 million in fee-based revenue for the Commonwealth each year.

The goal of Wednesday's rally was to urge the House Transportation Committee to take up H.B. 1648 for debate.

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