Democrats have introduced a bill to the state Legislature that would allow unauthorized immigrants to legally drive in New Jersey.
Under the bill, the State of New Jersey would be required to issue photo “driving privilege” cards to residents who could not prove that they were in this country legally but were able to show they lived in the state. The proponents of the bill see it as a step to increase public safety. It is expected that the bill will face opposition by Republican lawmakers. Similar bills that were submitted in the past did not make the grade leaving the outcome of the present bill at best uncertain. However, the issue will no doubt spur debate as republican opponents believe a measure would make it easier for those here illegally to continue breaking the law. Under current state law, immigrants must at least have temporary visa status to get a driver’s license.
The bill proposes to charge officials who discriminate against card holders with deprivation of civil rights, punishable by up to three to five years in prison and a fine of as much as $15,000. Under the bill, the cards would be valid for one year and applicants would have to pay an increased fees for the first five years of the program.
New Mexico passed a similar bill and it resulted in air travelers having to produce passports because drivers licenses no longer provided proof of citizenship and immigration status.