MA Senate to debate driver’s license bill for undocumented immigrants

BOSTON — On Thursday, Massachusetts Senators will be debating a bill on whether to allow undocumented immigrants to apply for driver’s licenses. The House already passed its version of the bill in February. A few Senators submitted amendments that could change the look of the bill—and the actual license.

Of the 25 amendments submitted Monday, Senate Minority Leader Bruce Tarr drafted 15 of them. Tarr doesn’t want undocumented immigrants to be able to get a Real ID. He wants it to have a different color background and also have a few other distinct differences.

Tarr’s amendments include creating a driver’s privilege card for those without legal immigration status. The cards would have a different color background. They wouldn’t be able to be used as a form of government identification. Tarr also wants to see strict guidelines on eligibility, requiring applicants to provide proof they’ve lived in the state for five years. Those with felonies would not be allowed to get one.

Currently, both the Senate’s and House’s bills are very similar, allowing undocumented immigrants to apply for a standard driver’s license, but not automatically registering them to vote.

If the Senate’s bill passes, it moves to the governor’s desk. Governor Charlie Baker has been opposed to this, but it might not matter. Lawmakers believe they have enough votes to override his veto.