FRAMINGHAM – in almost 100-degree temperatures, dozens and dozens of cars travelled from Mark Dennison Park throughout downtown Framingham and eventually to the main Framingham Public Library to drive the need for action on proposed legislation that would provide driver’s licenses for all in the immigrant community.
Cosecha Massachusetts and Never Again Action Boston hosted the car caravan specifically in the home district of Senate President Karen Spilka, hoping the public demonstration would accelerate a vote on the Work and Family Mobility Act, which allows undocumented immigrants to apply for Massachusetts driver’s licenses.
“It is great to see two great community organizations such Cosecha promoting action in Framingham to pressure our elected representatives to bring the bill for a vote,” said Framingham District 7 City Councilor Margareth Shepard, who has been a passionate advocate for the passage of this bill in Massachusetts.
Massachusetts S2641 bill was reported favorably by committee and referred to the Senate Ways and Means Committee in April 2020. Nothing has happened since on the bill.
The bill would give an estimated 155,000 undocumented immigrants in Massachusetts a type of government-issued identification.
The bill also removes language from Mass General Laws that prohibits individuals not authorized to be in the United States to be ineligible for a driver’s license.
“The ability to access a driver’s license would allow immigrants to work without fear of deportation and separation of family as well as greatly reduce challenges presented from pandemic conditions. Massachusetts COULD be the 16 state to pass licenses for immigrants,” said spokesperson Amelia Gonzalez Pinal
Fifteen states, and the District of Columbia, have a similar law, including Vermont & Connecticut in New England and New York and California
Similar bills have failed to be passed in previous Massachusetts sessions. And this bill will fail to if no vote is scheduled by July 31.
“During this pandemic we have been affected a lot and not having a license has put us in a greater risk of contracting and dying of COVID19. In this moment of struggle for racial justice,” said organizers.
“Almost all immigrants families are hybrids – documented and undocumented, and also mixed nationalities , and what affects one family members also affects all others. Framingham’s teachers have constantly testify about how parents not being able to drive, or driving without a license impacts the estudantes emotional’s life and their academic performance. Also did doctors and social workers concerned the need of mobility for someone that needs to take a sick child to a emergency room or flee from domestic violence. The COVID-19 increase the challenges since social distance is impossible inside a car,” said Shepard to SOURCE media.
“We are all of the people who are tired of being mistreated and humiliated,” said one of the speakers yesterday, July 9 in the library parking lot.
“And the warrior blood that runs through our veins, that is why we are hear creating popular power together,” said the speaker.
“Framingham has a very diverse population and houses a large immigrants community, among those some are undocumented that arrived here over 15 years ago. Physically visible, breathing…working…having kids…driving ..dying… they became an undeniable part of Framingham‘s history in the past 30 years. Since the 1980s, they work hard , invested and spend here contributing to the local economy. Access to Driver’s license was not an issue then. Neither was mass deportation,” wrote Councilor Shepard to SOURCE. “But September 11 attack changed everything, adding requirements, other them driving abilities, for driver’s license applications. The Federal Real ID Act expended the Driver’s license beyond a document for driving and became a form of identification for security standards and those who are undocumented are no longer able to renew the license they have for many years or apply for a new one.”
House Bill 3012, sponsored by State Rep. Tricia Farley-Bouvier of Pittsfield & Christine Barber of Somerville, a petition to the issuance of driver’s licenses to certain persons unable to provide proof of lawful presence is also at the State House. The Bill is supported by Framingham State Representatives Jack Patrick Lewis, Maria Robinson, and Carmine Gentile.
“While I wasn’t aware this event was happening, it does not surprise me to see support for this bill, as I hear about how transformative it would be for our immigrant families while also making our roads safer,” said Rep. Robinson (D-Framingham), to SOURCE media.
“Driving without a license became one of the major causes of deportation deeply intensifying the fear of driving without a license and in some situation leading undocumented indivíduos to unconscious run away of a accident scene. Traffic is already one of the biggest challenges in Framingham and to many others cities and towns in Massachusetts, eliminating this fear will improve the safety on our streets for all of us,” said Councilor Shepard.
“Thank you for bringing this event to our attention. While I wasn’t aware it was occurring, I am honored to have co-sponsored this important legislation that will support many families and make our communities and Commonwealth safer,” said Rep. Lewis (D-Framingham). “Many mention Framingham’s diversity as one of our city’s greatest strengths, and while this is true, celebrating diversity requires action. It is time for our city’s residents and leaders to move beyond paying lip service to diversity to instead supporting concrete legislation that will support our immigrant neighbors.”
If the bill passes, individuals who are undocumented, would be required to take vision and road safety tests to be issued a driver’s license like documented individuals.
“Police is another issue as Framingham has a shortage of officers and we need to be sure that their time is dedicated to protect the community against those who commits crime and not acting as immigration officer. Massachusetts roads will be much safer if all residents have access to proper driving training, pass the driving tests, have insurance, and do not fear the police,’ said Councilor Shepard
“Driving licenses are a privileges ad as such the requirements should be related to the driving abilities, proper training, and pass on driving tests, and not on immigration status since this documents will not provide any,” said Councilor Shepard to SOURCE.
“The Work and Family Mobility Act does not provide any other privileges other then driving and can not be used to access any government assistance program or any other form of identification,” said Shepard.
“Back in March I proposed a resolution to support this bill and it was approved by the majority of the City Councilors now is time for the State House to do the same. I hope that Senator Karen Spilka year our voices and take our resolution in consideration and bring this bill to the floor standing with us to improve safety for all on our roads,” said the Framingham City Councilor, now in her second term.