Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker on Friday vetoed a plan that would have allowed the state to issue driver’s licenses to illegal immigrants due to identity verification issues as well as voting issues.
The bill (H4805), if passed, would have seen illegal immigrants issued a standard state driver’s license if they had applied on or after July 1, 2023. Individuals applying would be required to provide proof of identity, date of birth and residence in the state. .
A spokeswoman for Massachusetts House Speaker Ron Mariano said the chamber plans to proceed with a by-pass vote on June 8, according to the State House News Service. A two-thirds vote is required in each chamber to enact legislation.
In a letter to the state legislature (pdf), the Republican governor said he could not sign the measure, saying the state motor vehicle registry lacked the ability to verify the identity of illegal immigrants.
“The Registry does not have the expertise to check the validity of many types of documents from other countries,” he wrote in his veto message.
“This legislation also nullifies a key guarantee of the driver’s licensing process that I signed into law just six years ago,” he added. “As a result, a standard Massachusetts driver’s license will no longer confirm that a person is who they say they are.”
He also said the measure would “significantly increase the risk of non-citizens being registered to vote”.
Indeed, the bill contains no measures that would help distinguish a legal citizen from an illegal immigrant, and furthermore, it prevents the registry from sharing citizenship information with “entities responsible for ensuring that only citizens register and vote in our elections”. ,” he said.
Baker had previously told reporters on May 9 that, if the bill passed, there would be “a huge number of provisional votes, which would then make it harder for people to determine who actually won the election.” The state has two upcoming elections, with a primary on September 6 and a general election on November 8.
The Massachusetts Commonwealth Secretary disagreed. He told the Boston Globe the same day, “How does the governor manage to tie this to the licensing issue, I’m confused and bewildered.”
“I think the Governor in his comments and Republicans in general in their comments on this issue tried to raise the specter that this will allow these people to vote,” he said at the time. “Nothing could be further from the truth… he makes this rhetorical assertion that there will be people who will vote, which they are not.”
Proponents of the bill say it could help improve road safety.
Elizabeth Sweet, executive director of the Massachusetts Immigrant and Refugee Advocacy (MIRA) Coalition said she was “deeply disappointed” by Baker’s veto of the measure.
“The policy would not only make our communities safer, but would benefit our economy and build trust between law enforcement and immigrant communities,” she said in a statement, WBUR reported. “We hope the legislature will waste no time in overriding the governor’s veto.”
The bill had passed the State House and the Senate – both with Democratic majorities – with more than enough votes to override any veto by the governor. The House initially passed the bill with a vote of 120 to 36, and the Senate voted in favor with a vote of 32 to 8. On May 26, the House voted 118 to 36 to accept the report of the committee of measurement conference.
If the measure becomes law, Massachusetts will join 16 states and the District of Columbia in allowing illegal immigrants to be issued driver’s licenses.