PENNSYLVANIA (WHTM) — There’s a renewed push in Pennsylvania to make licenses possible for more than 160,000 undocumented immigrants. It’s a move that is also gaining bipartisan momentum.
However, activists say the more time lapses, the more immigrant communities across the state worry.
“They live in the shadows and some even need to sleep in their workplaces because they fear there is going to be some interaction with the police and they may end up deported in a country they may not know. It’s a daily struggle,” Thais Carrero, Pennsylvania State Director for CASA.
A new bill in the state legislature is looking to change that, paving the way for undocumented people to apply for and obtain driver’s licenses. Representatives from PennDOT and the PA Department of Agriculture testified in favor of the bill, as did activists who say it would make the roads safer.
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“This push is to make sure that folks who are behind the wheel understand what the rules are so that we make sure everyone is insured and everyone has the ability to live their life to the fullest,” Carrero said.
Having a license, she says, also eliminates the threat of family separation when police stop a car. Pennsylvania used to offer driver’s licenses, but fears resulting from September 11th led the state to tighten ID laws in 2002. New Jersey, Maryland, and Delaware already have similar laws, as do thirteen other states nationwide.
Some Republicans oppose the proposal — repeatedly citing public safety and the rule of law, but advocates cast this as a human rights issue.
“After the pandemic, after immigrants stepped up to keep the economy running not only in Pennsylvania and our local communities but across the nation, people have started to realize we’re not asking for charity. We’re asking for our fair share,” Carrero added.