An attorney who worked with Minnesota Democrats to craft the new ‘Driver’s Licenses For All’ bill, recently signed into law, spoke to Unicorn Riot about the bill’s privacy provisions that reportedly prevent driver data from being shared with the feds. On March 2, the Democrat-controlled Minnesota state legislature passed the “Driver’s Licenses For All” bill, restoring driving privileges to all Minnesota residents regardless of immigration status. Democratic Governor Tim Walz signed the bill into law on March 7. This legislation comes after a 20-year struggle. In 2003, GOP Governor Tim Pawlenty unilaterally revoked the right of some Minnesotans to obtain a driver’s license by mandating proof of legal residency in the United States, such as a Social Security Number from applicants.
Saint Paul, Minnesota - Despite a snowstorm of historic proportions, hundreds of immigrants and supporters packed the State Capitol February 21 as the Senate debated Senate File 27, the Drivers Licenses for All bill which would allow Minnesotans to get a driver's license regardless of immigration status. After more than six hours of debating hostile Republican amendments, the Senate voted to pass the bill around 2:00 a.m. on a party-line vote, with all Democrats voting in favor and all Republicans voting against. The bill previously passed the House, and Governor Tim Walz already indicated he will sign it, so the Senate vote seals the victory for this major priority for immigrant communities and the immigrant rights movement.
Minneapolis, Minnesota - Over 100 immigrants and supporters gathered at the Waite House Community Center on Saturday, January 21 to hear from grassroots leaders in the struggle to win drivers license access for all, and from elected officials that are advancing the bill in the state legislature. The event was organized by the Minnesota Immigrant Movement (MIM), a grassroots organization that’s been fighting for drivers license equality in Minnesota for many years. The Minnesota Immigrant Rights Action Committee (MIRAC) was also present and spoke at the event. The event, which was conducted in Spanish, started with an explanation of how the state legislative process works. The drivers license bill needs to pass through several committees in both the state House and Senate, then to a vote of the full House and Senate. After reconciling any differences between the House and Senate versions of the bill, it goes to the governor to approve it or veto it.
Boston, Massachusetts - On May 5, under a scorching Boston afternoon sun, a motley group of Central American immigrant leaders and their families were strewn across the steps under the towering, ornate cast iron gates of the Massachusetts State House. Joined by mostly younger, non-immigrant allied organizers, the air was charged with nervous anticipation. An eclectic mix of Latin-American music, from traditional mariachi to Bad Bunny, boomed over a mobile PA system. Spontaneous chants of “Que queremos? Licencias! Cuando? Ahora!” or “What do we want? Licenses! When? Now!” broke out amongst ongoing laughter and chatter. Sometime around 2 p.m. the news was finally announced: in a veto-proof majority, the state senate voted 32-8 to pass the Work and Family Mobility Act, a bill that would allow undocumented people to apply for a driver’s license.