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Lawmakers Hear Renewed Push To Allow For Driver's Licenses Regardless Of Immigration Status

BOSTON (CBS) -- There is a new push to allow everyone in Massachusetts a license regardless of immigration status. The idea has been mentioned multiple times over the years but it loses steam on Beacon Hill.

This time, some police chiefs have joined the case.

The legislation is called The Work and Family Mobility Act. The transportation committee is discussing it and to advance it, lawmakers have to act by the February 2 deadline.

If it passes, Massachusetts would join 16 other states and the District of Colombia in allowing immigrants without legal status to get a driver's license.

Opponents of the bill argue that people who come into the country illegally should not be able to get an official license. Supporters say that ignores the fact that many immigrants drive anyway without a license and if they earn a license, health and safety would improve for everyone.

Two police chiefs and a sheriff were hoping to influence lawmakers Tuesday.

"This bill will improve public safety and public health," said Middlesex County Sheriff Peter Koutoujian. "Safer roads because of more insured motorists. Healthier communities from improved access to care. This bill is about more than operating a vehicle. its really about a lifeline to the services that we need to support our families and our communities."

If the legislation passes, it's estimated that about 60,000 people would be eligible to get a license.

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