Senate getting ready to debate driver’s licenses for undocumented immigrants

BOSTON — The Massachusetts Senate is gearing up for what could be its final debate on whether to allow undocumented immigrants to apply for driver’s licenses.

The House already passed its version of the bill in February. Members of the Senate have until Monday afternoon to submit any amendments before it goes up for debate Thursday.

In the bill, people without legal immigration status could apply for a standard driver’s license if they can show a foreign passport, a consular identification document, and at least one other document, like a foreign national ID card. Undocumented immigrants would not be registered to vote under the state’s automatic voter-registration law.

The Senate and House’s bills are very similar and are backed by immigrant rights advocates, insurance companies, and law enforcement groups. They argue it ensures people are properly trained to drive and it would help with identification. It’s estimated there are about 250,000 undocumented people living in the state.

If the Senate passes the bill, it then moves to the governor’s desk. Governor Charlie Baker has been opposed to the idea of giving undocumented immigrants driver’s licenses. But even if he vetoes it, lawmakers believe they have enough to override it. If it becomes law, Massachusetts could become the 17th state to allow such driver’s licenses. Vermont and Connecticut are two other New England states that currently allow undocumented immigrants to apply for a diver’s license.

This is a developing story. Check back for updates as more information becomes available.

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