FAIRFIELD COUNTY, Conn. – Connecticut is one step closer to allowing undocumented immigrants to receive driver’s licenses.
The state Senate early Thursday approved House Bill 6495, legislation that would allow an undocumented immigrant who has lived in the state for more than 90 days to apply for a driver’s license beginning in January 2015. The bill was approved in a 19-16 vote.
The proposed legislation was last week approved by the state House of Representatives. Next, it must be signed into law by Gov. Dannel Malloy, who Thursday expressed his support of the bill.
“This bill is first and foremost about public safety,” Malloy said in a statement. “It’s about knowing who is driving on our roads, and doing everything we can to make sure those drivers are safe and that they’re operating registered, insured vehicles.
“There’s a reason these measures have been supported by local police and city leaders, and that other states are taking similar common-sense steps. They’re changes that benefit everyone taking a car out onto our roads and highways.”
Under the legislation, undocumented immigrants seeking licenses would need to prove their identity using documentation from their country of citizenship. They would also need to provide documentation showing their residency in the state.
All applicants would also be required to undergo a background check. If an applicant has been convicted of a felony in the state, he or she would not be allowed to receive a driver’s license. If an applicant meets these requirements, he or she would then have to pass a driving test.
Licenses issued to undocumented residents would be marked “for driving purposes only” and would need to be renewed every three years.
State Sen. Toni Boucher, a Republican who represents several Fairfield County towns in the 26th District, voted against the bill, saying the issue is one that should be legislated at the federal level.
“A driver’s license is the universal form of identification for all activities. That is why it is so sought after and forged illegally in order to perpetrate criminal and terrorist activities,” Boucher said in a statement. “It is also the reason why we should be extremely cautious in how driver's licenses are provided, and should not be done in a way which skirts federal law and careful oversight.”
Boucher said she believes the legislation should be delayed until a thorough study can be conducted and the federal government can provide undocumented immigrants “an actual legal path” to citizenship through the Dream Act.
“The Dream Act is a process for full citizenship that would grant our undocumented residents with the full rights and privileges which they work so hard to attain,” she said. “After all, I am an immigrant, just like them. But I had to follow the law, and my family and I had to wait our turn.”
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