Minnesota Catholics Lobby For Illegal Immigrants to Get Driver’s License

ST. PAUL, MN — Tuesday’s roll call for Real ID passed the MN House Civil Law Committee 7-6.

The passing of Real ID prompted the MN Catholic Conference to lobby members of the legislature to change one small yet significant portion of the bill.

The original language comes from section 6.25 stating “(3) lawful status, as defined in Code of Federal Regulations, title 6, section 37.3.”

Federal regulations define lawful status as “a person in lawful status is a citizen or national of the United States; or an alien: lawfully admitted for permanent or temporary residence in the United States…”

As written, the bill would ask individuals seeking an upgraded ID for legal status.

The MN Catholic Conference – the official lobbying group for the Archdiocese of Minneapolis sent a letter urging lawmakers to remove language found in section 6.25.

In a statement to Alpha News, Shawn Peterson, the Associate Director of Public Policy of the Minnesota Catholic Conference said:

“The Minnesota Catholic Conference has continually been supportive of a bipartisan measure to allow undocumented persons to obtain a provisional driver’s license for the sole purpose of transporting themselves and their children to work, school, and their place of worship. This measure has been supported by a wide variety of organizations, including the legal immigrant community, faith communities, business organizations, and law enforcement, and has been successfully implemented in several other states. Undocumented immigrants who live in our communities are already driving on our streets. Why not ensure that they are doing so in a safe and legal manner?”

“What Minnesota needs now is people who are willing to move beyond sound bites and grandstanding to pursue instead a workable, common-sense solution. Lawmakers can no longer hold our state’s safety hostage for the sake of political expediency. This proposal won’t solve our country’s broken immigration system, but it will be a practical step towards improving the safety of our state and the well-being of the estimated 90,000 undocumented persons living here.”

When asked if their advocation for licenses encouraged undocumented immigrants to continue breaking federal and state law, Peterson replied:
“As for the charge of rewarding lawbreakers, people need to take time to understand some of the root causes of immigration, which include people being lured to the United States to be exploited for cheap labor, as well as our nation’s foreign policy in Latin America, which has destabilized regimes and caused a flood of migrants seeking safety and an escape from poverty. A law is good inasmuch as it upholds the dignity of all human persons.”

Some lawmakers do not agree with the church’s view on ID’s for undocumented workers, much less Real ID. In a statement to Alpha News, Rep. Eric Lucero (R-Dayton) said:

“A driver’s license is a gateway document which opens the door for access to additional privileges and legitimizes illegal behavior. I oppose drivers licenses for illegal immigrants because I support the rule-of-law. I oppose the Real ID bill as a whole because I support the Constitution. Real ID is yet another example of Federal Government overreach usurping Tenth Amendment States Rights and is a clear threat to liberty.”

Federal law requires all who enter the country to do so legally, something the church understands. Peterson said, “The Catholic Church recognizes the right of nations to regulate their borders for the common good of their citizens. The Minnesota Catholic Conference, along with the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, has long supported comprehensive immigration reform that would improve the country’s capacity to better control immigration, while at the same time putting undocumented persons already here on a pathway to citizenship.”

A vote on Real ID is expected sometime this week in the House.

Preya Samsundar

Preya Samsundar was born and raised in Minneapolis, MN. She graduated from the University of Minnesota - Twin Cities this Spring with a B.A. in Political Science and Sociology, with a minor in Strategic Communications. Preya has previously worked on several State Campaign Races.