About 30 activists gathered at the Waite House Community Center in Minneapolis on February 25 to strategize ways to move forward with a bill that would allow undocumented immigrants to obtain a driver’s license. Mujeros En Liderazgo (Women in Leadership), an organization dedicated to social and immigration issues, organized the meeting. Only a handful of states have passed similar laws, while a larger number require proof of immigration status to be presented by drivers license applicants.
Maria Cisneros emphasized the problems that lack of a driver’s license can create. “If a child gets sick, and they don’t have access to the emergency room or they can’t get a job, this is a loss to the economy,” she said. “Someone who is affected by domestic violence may not report to the police because they don’t have a driver’s license or I.D. This affects single mothers and their children, from not being able to take children to the doctor or to get to work to support their children.”
Fellow Mujeres En Liderazgo activist and Waite House employee Jovita Morales added that the most vulnerable can be exploited if they don’t have an I.D. She cited the example of trying to rent an apartment without a driver’s license. “You can’t rent an apartment without an I.D. Landlords take advantage of that and they will take you through the whole process and then if you can’t provide an I.D. they will charge you additional amounts.”
State Representative Karen Clark of Minneapolis is the author of a drivers’ license bill, which is currently in the Transportation Committee. “It is unlikely that this law would be signed by this governor,” said Clark. “He ran as an anti-immigrant candidate. But it doesn’t mean we shouldn’t get through this step this year where we can at least get it to the floor.”
Mujeres En Liderazgo have reserved a room at the State Office Building (100 Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd, St. Paul MN, 55155) for people affected to give testimony at 9:30 a.m. on March 4. The transportation committee will vote on the amended bill at 1 p.m. on March 10 at the same location and supporters are encouraged to attend. For more information or to get involved contact Kate Percuoso at firstname.lastname@example.org Jovita Morales at email@example.com.