Mass. Police Chiefs Back Driver’s Licenses for Undocumented Immigrants

by Colin A. Young, State House News Service

BOSTON (State House News Service) — An organization representing urban police chiefs voted this week to support legislation authorizing undocumented immigrants to obtain a standard state driver's license.

"This bill would promote trust between law enforcement and all the communities we serve and protect," Chelsea Police Chief Brian Kyes, president of the Mass. Major City Chiefs of Police Association, said in a statement Thursday about the Work and Family Mobility Act. "In order for our state’s police officers to best do their jobs and remain safe while doing so, they need to be able to identify who’s behind the wheel. All Massachusetts families need peace of mind knowing that the drivers on our highways and city streets have passed the same driving test and know the rules of our roads."

The association, which has 38 members, declined to release the vote tally but an official said Kyes reported that the "vast majority" of members voted to back the bill (H 3012 and S 2061).

During a WGBH radio interview in September, Senate President Karen Spilka initially declined to state her opinion on the bill, saying it was in committee and she hadn't discussed it with her colleagues, but then endorsed the bill.

"I believe that for public safety reasons, even just if you look at it alone, we should pass it," Spilka said. "We have people that are driving - they're going to keep driving - that don't know the rules of the road. They have accidents. They run from them because they don't have insurance. They don't have a license, They're afraid of being deported."

Spilka added, "There's like 14 other states that have done this and the sky hasn't fallen."

The Transportation Committee faces a Feb. 5 deadline to make a recommendation on the bill, which has been filed in previous sessions but failed to gain traction in the Legislature.

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