Minnesota illegal immigrants erupt in cheers over new licenses, top Dem dismisses voting concerns

Illegal immigrants in Minnesota are celebrating this week as the “Drivers Licenses for All” bill passed the House by a 69 to 60 vote following hours of debate during which Republican amendments seeking to protect the integrity of the state’s elections were rejected.

House File 4 “would bar special markings on the license related to a driver’s immigration status,” according to the Minnesota House of Representatives. “And it includes data protection while ensuring law enforcement and other agencies have access to the information they need to do their job – notably the secretary of state’s office, which administers elections.”


The legislative body goes on to explain that “there are public safety and economic benefits to passing the legislation, which would return the state to pre-2003 regulations,” when Minnesotans didn’t have to show proof of residency to obtain a driver’s license. “People would have to demonstrate they know the rules of the road, they would be able to get insurance and have access to jobs where public transportation is sparse.”

“The bill has received support from representatives of law enforcement, labor, business and religious groups,” the House added.

Rep. Aisha Gomez (DFL-Mpls.) sponsored the bill and says it is a long time coming.

“This is the right thing to do, and now is the time to do it,” she said. “I want to acknowledge that the decades of pain our inaction has caused to communities around this state.”

“All Minnesotans deserve to be able to work and to take care of themselves and their families,” said Speaker Melissa Hortman, according to Fox 9. “Ensuring everyone has access to driver’s licenses will improve public safety for everyone, grow the state economy, and treat immigrant communities with the dignity and respect they deserve.”

Republicans tried and failed to address concerns with voting regulations, suggesting amendments that would add “not for voting” to the license or run the noncompliant licenses vertically to distinguish them from standard licenses, though, as Fox 9 notes, “someone looking to vote illegally could already obtain a state identification card.”

“Doing so, obviously, would also already be a crime,” the outlet reports.

“The bill we have at hand, House File 4, has valid concerns,” Rep. Lisa Demuth stated. “Because of the lack of our amendments that were taken, it feels to me as if it has been ignored… Those were bipartisan provisions that were worked on over time to ensure trust in our elections. But when we offered the amendments today, they were rejected.”

On Twitter, Minnesota Secretary of State Steve Simon dismissed the voting concerns.

“The Drivers Licenses for All bill will not change Minnesota election laws at all,” he wrote. “Many people who are ineligible to vote (like green card holders or sixteen year-olds) already have drivers licenses. For that reason, drivers licenses are not used as proof of citizenship.”

Voters, on the other hand, aren’t so sure:

This bill now moves on to the Senate.


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