On Tuesday, Jan. 21, at their monthly meeting, The Massachusetts Major City Chiefs of Police Association (MMCC)—an organization comprised of most of the police chiefs for the bay state’s cities, along with those representing the state police and the Mass Bay transit authority—voted to endorse the Work and Family Mobility Act. If passed, the WFMA would extend the ability to obtain a Massachusetts standard driver’s license to qualified undocumented immigrants, making our roads safer for all. This endorsement lends an important boost to this urgent legislation, which must be voted out of the transportation committee by February 5 and passed into law by July 2020.
“As an organization committed to community policing and racial justice as paramount to reducing crime, we are proud to endorse the Work and Family Mobility Act,” said Brian Kyes, Chief of the Chelsea Police department and President of the MMCC. “This bill would promote trust between law enforcement and all the communities we serve and protect. In order for our state’s police officers to best do their jobs and remain safe while doing so, they need to be able to identify who’s behind the wheel. All Massachusetts families need peace of mind knowing that the drivers on our highways and city streets have passed the same driving test and know the rules of our roads.”
According to the Pew Research Center, as of 2016 there were 250,000 “unauthorized” immigrants living in Massachusetts. Yet, these immigrants—many of whom have lived in our state for decades and are raising U.S.-born children here—don’t qualify for a Standard Massachusetts Driver’s license, meaning every time they need to drive their children to school or to the doctor, they risk detention or deportation. 15 states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico, have passed legislation that gives eligible drivers the ability to obtain a driver’s license, regardless of immigration status. These laws improve public safety by ensuring that all drivers pass the same driver’s test, get vision exams and have car insurance. They also boost the economy, and have been shown to decrease hit and run incidents in Connecticut and other states.
The WFMA has widespread support across the Commonwealth. At a hearing for the bill in September 2019, 600-plus supporters packed into the statehouse, including affected immigrants and their children, community advocates, doctors, social workers, educators, business leaders, and faith leaders. With immigrants under constant attack by the Trump Administration, it’s time for Massachusetts to take a stand to protect our immigrant friends and neighbors.