BLOG: Chamber of Commerce and Key Republicans Back Bill to Give Illegal Immigrants Drivers Licenses

Rep Ron Hamilton, MN House

A bill to grant Minnesota drivers licenses to illegal immigrants has a Republican lead sponsor and the backing of the Minnesota Chamber of Commerce.

Rep Rod Hamilton, R-Mountain Lake, is the Chief Sponsor of House File 97 and according to the Star Tribune both labor unions and business groups like the Chamber of Commerce support the bill.

There are already more than 34,500 people residing in Minnesota with temporary visas or deportation reprieves issued in 2012 by President Obama and who have drivers licenses marked with the words “Check status.”

This new bill would cover illegal immigrants who do not fall under these categories. HF97 adds language to current law that would deem identification from a foreign government as an acceptable proof of identify for application for a Minnesota drivers license.  In the case of this provision, this would mean a foreign-government issued passport and birth certificate with any document that is not in English accompanied by an English translation.

The bill would also add a section to the current drivers license application form that would convey that the applicant is not required to enter a Social Security number if the applicant attests that they don’t have a Social Security number.  It would also add a box where the applicant would attest to a residence address in Minnesota.

The bipartisan support from key Republicans is quite a change from two years ago when similar bills to liberalize requirements to obtain a drivers license made it out of the Senate Transportation and Public Safety Committee on a party line vote with no Republican support. The House bill at the time was authored by a Democrat.

The total number of illegals currently in Minnesota, who are not already granted some form of temporary stay from the federal government, is unknown. According to the latest numbers from the Pew Research Center the number was 95,000 in 2012.

There is a deadline coming up on March 20th for the bill to be assigned a committee hearing.  Thus far, Speaker Kurt Daudt has not assigned the bill a hearing, but with the powerful Chamber on board it’s a bill to watch closely this session.

Other sponsors of the House File 97:

Rep Denny McNamara, R-Hastings

Rep Bob Gunther, R-Fairmont

Rep Ron Kresha, R-Little Falls

Rep Dave Baker, R-Willmar

Rep Ron Erhardt, D-Edina

Rep John Persell, D-Bemidji

Rep David Bly, D-Northfield

Rep Jennifer Schultz, D-Duluth

Rep Linda Slocum, D-Richfield

Rep Cheryl Youakim, D-Hopkins

Rep Carlos Mariani, D-St. Paul

Rep Dave Pinto, D-St. Paul

Rep Sheldon Johnson, D-St. Paul

Rep Karen Clark, D-Minneapolis

Rep Frank Hornstein, D-Minneapolis

Rep Raymond Dehn, D-Minneapolis

Rep Susan Allen, D-Minneapolis

Rep Jim Davnie, D-Minneapolis



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