The proposed regulations could prevent more than half of residents from accessing a driver’s license who could benefit from the statute.
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By Adam Rizvi TIO: As per the press release, in a response to the New Jersey Motor Vehicle Commission (MVC) proposed regulations that would implement the recently passed statute (A.4743/S.3229) to expand access to standard driver’s licenses to more residents in New Jersey, advocates with the Let’s Drive NJ coalition and impacted community members raised concerns about the requirements in the regulations which could prevent access to more than half of the resident who could benefit from the statute.
The proposed MVC regulations impose a requirement on immigrants without status who do not have a Social Security Number (SSN) or an Individual Tax Identification Number (ITIN) to provide proof of SSN ineligibility from the Social Security Administration (SSA), a federal agency. However, the statute does not require an ineligibility letter from the SSA. Advocates are urging the MVC to instead permit an applicant to attest to their ineligibility for an SSN, a practice already in place in other states that have expanded access to driver’s licenses regardless of immigration status, including California and New York.
Advocates also raised concerns about the need to include more documentation that can be used as points of ID in the regulations, and the need to include privacy protections that would benefit all current and new applicants for a driver’s license.
Alex Rodriguez, Community Member with Wind of the Spirit said,
“New Jersey was able to pass driver’s licenses for all with the support of the Governor, the legislature, and the MVC Chief Administrator. Now we the people need to make sure they do it right. It’s only fair that all New Jerseyans can get on the road safely, but new proposed regulations put huge obstacles in their way. Having to go through federal agencies, and other countries’ consulates, especially during the COVID19 slowdown, is an unreasonable detour for immigrants. We have the resources right here to carry out the law as it was intended, and for everyone, it was meant to help.”
Maneesha Kelkar, Interim Director of New Jersey Alliance for Immigrant Justice said,
“The regulations require that individuals get a letter of ineligibility from the SSA. Such a letter of ineligibility requires that immigrants go to a federal agency to prove they are undocumented before they can head to their local DMV to apply for a standard driver’s license. Under a xenophobic federal administration, the consequences of going to a federal agency could mean having your information shared with ICE. We must address this critical issue in these regulations which have veered off course from what the statute intends.
“Immigrants without status and their families are likely to feel safer sharing their personal information with state and local agencies, rather than the federal government. Instead, the MVC can simplify the process by requiring the person to indicate their ineligibility for an SSN when they apply for a license at their local DMV.”
Farrin Anello, ACLU-NJ Senior Staff Attorney said,
“In 2019, New Jersey took a historic step by standing firmly in the values of equity and justice and passing A4743/S3229, a crucial bill that ensures access to driver’s licenses to all qualified New Jerseyans regardless of immigration status. As a state, we must be sure that the regulations set in place for the implementation of this legislation allow for true and meaningful access for all eligible communities. To this end, we urge the Motor Vehicle Commission (MVC) to implement the proposed changes to the regulations; changes that would expand access, particularly to members of historically under-served communities, and provide key protections to strengthen the privacy of all applicant data. The ACLU of New Jersey, as a member of the Let’s Drive NJ coalition, stands ready to work with MVC and the Governor’s office to achieve the goals of this landmark legislation.”
Amanda Dominguez, Community Organizer with New Labor said,
“New Labor urges New Jersey leadership and the MVC to address the concerns regarding the proposed regulations for community members to access a driver’s license. The proposed regulations would cause financial burdens, delay processing time, and put community members’ health at risk due to lack of transportation. Ultimately, it will deter many members who would be eligible for a driver’s license from getting one. It is necessary that the MVC and New Jersey consider improved ways of implementing this groundbreaking legislation based on successful practices in other states and ensure that all who are eligible for a driver’s license under the New Jersey statute have a safe and fair way to obtain it.”
Kevin Brown, 32BJ SEIU Vice President, and New Jersey District Director said,
“As New Jersey’s families navigate the pandemic and growing economic activity, including sending their kids back to school and returning to workplaces, our communities need the tools to stay afloat and support their families. This includes the ability to get a drivers’ license. Regulations proposed by the state’s Motor Vehicles Commission, such as requiring a letter of ineligibility for a social security number from a federal agency, would create obstacles to safe, socially distanced practices for families as they head to work or school, making life in our communities needlessly difficult. The MVC must ensure that a standard driver’s license is accessible for all qualified residents regardless of immigration status so that New Jersey can keep moving forward without anyone left behind.”
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Meghan Hurley, Policy and Advocacy Organizer with CATA – The Farmworkers Support Committee
“The proposed regulations from the MVC for the standard driver licenses are troublesome. In order to expand access to drivers’ licenses to the communities that really need them, the regulations need to be more inclusive with documentation requirements and there must be codified protection of people’s privacy and personal information.”
About Let’s Drive NJ Coalition: Let’s Drive NJ brings together over eighty community, faith, labor, social service, and advocacy organizations to push to expand access to driver’s licenses in the Garden State. Too often, otherwise qualified drivers face barriers to obtaining a license — vulnerable populations like undocumented immigrants, survivors of violence, transgender individuals, and senior citizens are particularly impacted. In December 2019, New Jersey became the 15th state to expand access to driver’s licenses to qualified drivers, regardless of immigration status. New Jersey joins fourteen other states and D.C that have implemented similar measures. It is expected New Jersey will see an increase in public safety, increase in revenues to state and local economies, and increase the well-being of all families – particularly the hundreds of thousands who will gain access to a driver’s license.
Contributed By Hera Mir, Communications and Operations Coordinator
New Jersey Alliance for Immigrant Justice.
Compiled and Curated By Maham Abbasi