Minnesota Governor Tim Walz signed the “Driver’s License for All” bill into law Tuesday morning, making it now possible for undocumented immigrants to drive legally in the state.
The signing ceremony took place at the National Guard Armory in St. Paul, where Governor Walz was surrounded by supporters of the bill, including dozens of immigrants. The legislation marks a significant victory for immigrant communities, who have been organizing to drive legally in the state ever since that right was taken from them by Governor Pawlenty in 2003, when he changed eligibility to require proof of lawful admission into the United States.
We’ve been fighting for Driver’s Licenses for All for quite some time and we’ve stayed the course,” Minnesota Sen. Bobby Champion (DFL) said. “Because it is right.”
Proponents of the bill assert that allowing undocumented immigrants to drive legally has a wide range of benefits, from helping them to better support their families to making Minnesota roads safer for all drivers.
“DVS is extremely proud to support the 4.6 million active credentials in the system today … but we recognize that it is not inclusive of all.” said Piong Xiong, director of Driver and Vehicle Services within the Minnesota Department of Public Safety. “And DVS supports expanding the availability of credentials to all Minnesotans regardless of their ability to demonstrate legal presence.”
Opponents of the bill say that its passage will encourage and reward illegal immigration, with some GOP lawmakers claiming that it will prompt an increase in voter fraud. Minnesota election officials and law enforcement have said that fear is unfounded
“You may not agree with everything on the bill. But the truth is law enforcement likes it the way it is. Businesses like it just as it is. Community likes it just as it is,” Freshman Minnesota Senator Zaynab Mohamed (DFL) said. “There is not a single group that wants to change this bill.”
The passage of the bill marks a significant victory for immigrant communities, who have been organizing to drive legally in the state ever since that right was taken from them by Governor Pawlenty in 2003, when he changed eligibility to require proof of lawful admission into the United States.
Minnesota joins eighteen other states and Washington, D.C. who have implemented a “Driver’s Licenses for All” law. There are approximately 81,000 undocumented immigrants in Minnesota, according to the Migration Policy Institute.