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Massachusetts Senate Passes Bill Allowing Undocumented Immigrants To Get Driver's Licenses

BOSTON (CBS) - The Senate passed a bill that would give immigrants without legal status a pathway to obtain a Massachusetts driver's license. The Senate voted 32-8 Thursday.

If the bill becomes law, people without legal status could obtain a driver's license by providing two documents proving their identity such as a passport or birth certificate. It's a point of concern for some lawmakers who were against it.

"If the documents that are presented for identification purposes, in another section of the bill, are not in English, then they have to certified translation," said Minority Leader Sen. Bruce Tarr (R). "But the bill doesn't mention who does the translation."

Those rallying in front of the State House Thursday say driver's licenses for those undocumented has been a fierce advocacy push for years.

"It's beautiful to see all the community's kids, parents, people coming out of work and rallying support," said Haydi Torres of Movimiento Cosecha. "They have been taking the streets for the past three years and really organizing the community from the bottom up."

"We need (licenses) to bring our children to school for the after school, for the program summer school and for the work," said Enilda Lodo of East Boston.

Now the Senate's bill would task the state with developing voter regulations. It's an issue Governor Charlie Baker has repeatedly raised concerns about. "It puts tremendous pressure on cities and towns to do the cleanup on the back end," Gov. Baker said.

"Undocumented immigrants, they are very clear that voting when you're not supposed to is illegal and it can carry jail time," Torres said.

The bill now moves to the desk of Governor Baker, but if he doesn't approve, Senate members believe they have enough votes to override a potential veto.

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