To the editor:

Imagine as capable, working adults, being prohibited from driving.

Would we lose our employment; would our children miss doctor’s and other appointments? Would shopping be a major enterprise with taxi fares to pay? Would we be tempted to use our cars despite the prohibition?

After all, cars are essential in these times of severely limited public transportation, as 78% of Massachusetts workers age 16 and older get to work by car, van or truck.

The reality of undocumented immigrants being prohibited from driving has prompted 13 states and the District of Columbia to allow these immigrants to obtain driver’s licenses by providing required documentation.

These special licenses are separate and do not conflict with the Federal Government’s REAL ID program.

What comes from the issuance of these licenses is an increase in public safety. Drivers enter the road after being thoroughly tested. In California, a Stanford University study reported that this law increased public safety by reducing the number of hit-and-run accidents.

Under this law, drivers would be insured, thus increasing state revenue.

In 2016, the 255,000 undocumented immigrants who live in Massachusetts contributed $8.8 billion to our state’s economy and paid an estimated $184.6 million in state and local taxes, proving that they play a vital role in our social and economic fabric.

Even a minor traffic violation can cause an undocumented immigrant with no criminal record, and years of working to support a family, to be arrested and face deportation, thus ripping the family apart.

This issue of licenses has become bi-partisan, with Republican governors in Utah, Nevada and New Mexico signing on to this law. Rather than focusing on immigration, it focuses on public safety as undocumented immigrants wait patiently for our government to give them a chance for legalization.

At 10 a.m., Wednesday, Sept. 4th, Speaker Robert DeLeo and the co-sponsors of “Driving Families Forward” will bring this bill to a hearing at the Massachusetts Statehouse.

Jane Thiefels


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