A coalition of Big Business groups is pressuring lawmakers to approve a bill that would grant driver’s licenses to illegal immigrants, citing workforce and public safety concerns. The bill was passed in the House during the previous two legislative sessions as well.
The Minnesota Chamber of Commerce, AgriGrowth, Minnesota Milk Producers, and Minnesota Pork Producers signed a letter to lawmakers earlier this month expressing support for the legislation. The bill cleared the House Transportation Committee and is now being considered by the Judiciary Finance and Civil Law Committee.
“Minnesota employers rely on immigrant workers to serve their customers and produce the variety of products and services we use and enjoy,” the groups say in their letter. “To do this safely, workers should complete drivers’ license training, testing and licensing requirements, including securing insurance.”
“Minnesota businesses value the contributions of immigrants to our state,” the letter says, noting that illegal immigrant workers can help address the state’s “acute workforce shortages.”
“Unemployment rates remain at historic lows, the labor participation rate is 6th highest nationally, and the pattern of more residents leaving than staying in Minnesota further exacerbates our workforce shortage. Immigrant workers are a key to this challenge,” the letter continues.
The bill is also supported by law enforcement groups, who argue that the legislation will make Minnesota’s roads safer.
“Minnesota needs to restore access for all residents of the state to drive regardless of immigration status. Having the ability to obtain a driver’s license should be viewed as a human right,” DFL Rep. Maria Isa Pérez-Vega, one of the bill’s authors, said in a statement.
Critics of the bill argue that it’s just another form of amnesty and will disincentivize legal immigration.
“Granting a driver’s license to illegal aliens accommodates and rewards those who violate our immigration laws and encourages others to follow the same path. States that grant driver’s licenses to illegal aliens become magnets for illegal immigration. It also gives prospective immigrants little incentive to pursue legal paths to immigration when they can side step the process and gain the same benefits,” the Foundation for Immigration Reform said.
Republicans have also argued that the bill doesn’t do enough to prevent illegal immigrants from using their IDs to vote or sign up for benefits. In the House, Rep. Nolan West introduced an amendment that would have required these IDs to include a “not voting” label. The amendment was rejected by Democrats, who believe the steep immigration consequences are enough to prevent illegal immigrants from casting a vote.
“We are voting. Our people are voting. If you don’t pass this bill, people are going to vote you all out,” Angelico Bello, who said she is a DACA recipient, told the House Transportation Committee Jan. 10. Read more: https://t.co/Qv0JtcpyBX pic.twitter.com/TkaIG7Sfjf
— Alpha News (@AlphaNewsMN) January 19, 2023
Illegal immigrants were eligible for driver’s licenses in Minnesota until 2003, when Gov. Tim Pawlenty established a proof of legal residence requirement. Center of the American Experiment policy fellow Bill Glahn explained the national security concerns behind Pawlenty’s post-9/11 reform in a recent article.
At present, Minnesota Democrats control the Senate with a 34-33 margin. They also control the House with 70 members compared to the GOP’s 64. With Democrat Tim Walz occupying the governor’s mansion, 2023 may prove to be the year illegal immigrants residing in Minnesota are granted driver’s licenses.
Stephen Kokx, M.A., is a journalist for LifeSiteNews. He previously worked for the Archdiocese of Chicago under the late Francis Cardinal George. A former community college instructor, Stephen has written and spoken extensively about Catholic social teaching and politics. His essays have appeared in such outlets as Catholic Family News and CatholicVote.org.