As of 2023, a hotly debated issue in the United States concerns issuing driver’s licenses to undocumented immigrants. While some states have proposed legislation to allow undocumented immigrants to obtain licenses, others have taken steps to tighten restrictions on this practice.
Next, we will answer the following questions:
- Why is obtaining a driver’s license difficult for undocumented immigrants in the US?
- What are the potential benefits of states enacting these driver’s license laws?
- Which states have proposed new legislation for driver’s licenses for undocumented immigrants?
- Which states are seeking to strengthen restrictions on driver’s license legislation?
- Which states currently allow undocumented immigrants to obtain driver’s licenses?
- How can I stay up-to-date on the latest legislation related to driver’s licenses?
Why is obtaining a driver’s license difficult for undocumented immigrants in the US?
Undocumented immigrants may face barriers when obtaining a driver’s license due to federal and state requirements, such as providing a Social Security number or legal residency status. However, some states are proposing or enacting legislation to allow undocumented immigrants to obtain driver’s licenses, recognizing the important role that driving plays in daily life.
What are the potential benefits of states enacting these driver’s license laws?
There are several potential benefits to states enacting driver’s license laws for undocumented immigrants. Here are a few examples:
- Public safety: One of the most significant benefits is improved public safety. When undocumented immigrants have access to driver’s licenses, they are more likely to be trained, licensed, and insured, which can reduce the number of accidents on the road. This benefits not only undocumented immigrants but also all drivers and pedestrians who share the road.
- Economic impacts: When undocumented immigrants can obtain driver’s licenses, they are required to pay the same fees as any other driver, including license application and renewal fees. These funds can generate significant revenue for the state for critical public services, such as schools, roads, and healthcare.
- Employment opportunities: Many jobs require a valid driver’s license; without one, undocumented immigrants may be limited in their ability to work and support themselves and their families. By providing access to driver’s licenses, states can help undocumented immigrants to access more employment opportunities and contribute to the economy.
Which states have proposed new legislation for driver’s licenses for undocumented immigrants?
- Minnesota: Undocumented immigrants in Minnesota received good news on February 22, 2023, as the state Senate passed the ‘Driver’s Licenses for All’ bill by a vote of 34-31. This legislation will benefit thousands of individuals unable to obtain a driver’s license due to their immigration status. The bill is now awaiting Governor Tim Walz’s signature and is expected to take effect on October 1, 2023.
- New Hampshire: New Hampshire lawmakers are considering legislation enabling undocumented immigrants to obtain driver’s licenses, marking a renewed effort to address an issue that failed to pass in the State House during the last session.
- Indiana: Senate Bill 248 proposes giving undocumented immigrants living in Indiana a driving privilege card. This bill was introduced to the Senate’s Homeland Security and Transportation Committee on February 7, 2023.
- Nebraska: In Nebraska, Senator Tom Brewer introduced a bill to specifically authorize driver’s licenses for immigration parolees, asylum applicants, DACA recipients, and anyone else given work authorization by the administration, regardless of whether they are lawfully present under federal law.
- Idaho: On February 28, 2023, the Idaho Legislature’s Senate Transportation Committee voted to advance Senate Bill 1081, which would create a restricted driver’s license available to all people 16 and older residing in Idaho, regardless of their immigration status.
Which states are seeking to strengthen restrictions on driver’s license legislation?
Several states have either implemented or are considering stricter driver’s license legislation restrictions for undocumented immigrants. Some of these states include:
- Texas: On January 12, a proposed law called Senate Bill 430 was introduced that would make driver’s licenses for non-citizens expire either one year after they are issued or when the person’s temporary permission to be in the country expires, whichever is earlier.
- Florida: In 2022, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis signed a bill that prohibits local governments in the state from issuing driver’s licenses or identification cards to undocumented immigrants.
Which states currently allow undocumented immigrants to obtain driver’s licenses?
As of March 2023, 19 states plus the District of Columbia (D.C.) grant driver’s licenses to non-citizens regardless of immigration status. Each state has different rules and regulations on obtaining a driver’s license (or its equivalent) without legal status. For a complete list of states that allow undocumented immigrants to obtain driver’s licenses, click here.
How can I stay up-to-date on the latest legislation related to driver’s licenses?
Legislative sessions are ongoing in many states, and new proposals or updates to existing laws may emerge in the coming months. To stay informed on any developments, follow us on our social media accounts: