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4 Bills Die, Advocates Continue Fight

by Megan Merrigan | Apr 22, 2013 5:30am
(4) Comments | Commenting has expired
Posted to: Civil Liberties, Equality, Immigration, Transportation

Christine Stuart file photo

Rep. Juan Candelaria at a state Capitol rally

Despite the perceived momentum toward four separate bills concerning undocumented immigrants being eligible for driver’s licenses, not one of them made it past the Transportation Committee’s deadline last month.

The issue has been a hot one, drawing in crowds larger than 2,000 to public hearings, receiving nearly 100 pieces of supportive testimony and being the theme of several rallies held at the Capitol. 

Gov. Dannel P. Malloy has even expressed support towards the issue telling Tribuna CT, “It doesn’t make sense, it should be addressed,” in an article from early March.

Yet, the bills went zero for four this legislative session.

Considering the governor’s support, the issue does not need a bill and can be done through regulation.  But, Rep. Juan Candelaria D-New Haven, who introduced one of the four bills, explained that he wanted something more permanent for “such a touchy subject,” as he described it.

While the issue has the support of the current governor, it may not receive the same backing from future administrations, Candelaria said.

Transportation Committee Chair, Rep. Antonio Guerrera D-Rocky Hill, explained in a phone interview that it’s not a matter of opposition to any of the bills, but rather how to “do it in a way that’s clear, and precise, and can work.”

Guerrera is looking to organize a study group to find out what worked and did not work for states that have passed similar legislation.

“We don’t want to put the cart before the horse,” he said.

If passed, Connecticut would join the likes of Illinois, New Mexico, Utah and Washington, which already issue these licenses for driving purposes.  Utah and Illinois these licenses are not authorized for the use of identification.

While no obvious opposition may be coming from the Capitol, the majority of the state’s voters lack support for the issue, according to a Quinnipiac University poll.

The poll found that only 31 percent of Connecticut voters are in favor of allowing undocumented immigrants to get driver’s licenses, and 65 percent are opposed.

The lack of success this legislative session has forced the bills to seek other vehicles of passage.  Such as, identifying other, similar, bills that have passed through the Transportation Committee and finding ways to amend them, according to Candelaria.

Candelaria does not foresee an amendment to the budget as a potential vehicle, despite the predicted economic benefits that would follow if this legislation were to pass.

Research suggests that the state could potentially reap nearly $50 million if the legislation passed.

As of 2010, nearly 120,000 unauthorized immigrants resided in Connecticut, according to a study conducted by the Pew Research Center, and approximately 54,000 of them currently drive on Connecticut roads without any documentation, according to research done by the Jerome N. Frank Legal Services Organization at Yale Law School.

If all of the estimated 54,000 undocumented drivers received licenses and purchased car insurance they could yield nearly $46 million in increased revenue for insurance companies, according to Jerome N. Frank Legal Services Organization’s research.

According to the same research, car registration fees would yield $2 million, and additional revenue would come from license fees.

“Driver’s licenses for everyone makes sense in Connecticut,” Rep. Andres Ayala D-Bridgeport said at a rally earlier this month.  “Because, simply, we want safe highways, we want safe roads and we want people who are on our roads to be competent to know what the laws are where they are driving.  So it just makes sense.”

Sen. Martin Looney D-New Haven, who introduced two of the four bills, agreed and said that undocumented immigrants are going to drive whether or not they are licensed.

“Whatever may be your view on federal immigration policy going forward, these individuals are residents of our communities and the question we need to answer is, ‘what policies regarding these residents will best serve the goals of enhanced public safety and sound public policy?’” Looney said in his testimony to the Transportation Committee.

A rally will be held at the Capitol on April 29 in an attempt to ignite additional support for the issue.

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(4) Comments

posted by: dea | April 22, 2013  9:22am

Are our legislative leaders and governor so far out of touch that they support legislation that 65% are opposed to?
Is the primary purpose to bring in extra revenue? That’s absolutely brilliant, why don’t we do something to improve the business climate instead.
The excuse that they are going to drive anyway, another brilliant statement, why don’t we all break laws,after all they’re only laws.

posted by: timelord | April 22, 2013  11:37am

I’m surprised that only 65% of CT residents are opposed to driver’s licenses for illegal aliens (please let’s stop calling them “undocumented immigrants,” they’re here illegally, not undocumentedly!).

But this statement really set off my hypocrite meter: “If all of the estimated 54,000 undocumented drivers received licenses and purchased car insurance they could yield nearly $46 million in increased revenue for insurance companies…”

Soooooo, mostly the progressives loathe and denigrate the evil, blood-sucking, rolling in filthy ill-gotten luchre insurance companies.  But if it supports their cause to reward law-breakers then increasing their profits is just a great idea!

I’d like to know what happens when an “undocumented driver” gets pulled over for a traffic infraction. They have no license, no insurance card, no legal gov’t issued identification, so my guess is that they just let them go.

Maybe all of us citizens of the United States of America ought to throw away our driver’s licenses and just drive “undocumentedly!”  Think of how much money we could save in driver’s license fees and by not having to pay tickets!

posted by: dano860 | April 22, 2013  7:19pm

Timelord, if you or I are pulled over w/out a license or registration our vehicles are stopped on the spot and we need to have them towed home or to a garage.
Mr. Looney is essentially condoning the operation of vehicles by these undocumented visitors.
By the definition of the law these undocumented visitors are really criminal illegal aliens. Operating a vehicle w/out a license is a crime!
The bottom line here (Democrat Plan) is to incrementally get these people up to being illegal VOTERS. DeStefano already tried that one. (in his sanctuary city)

posted by: DrHunterSThompson | April 22, 2013  9:28pm

DrHunterSThompson

aw common! they can already get in-state tuition, financial aid, other state aid, food stamps, state assistance against prosecution by the ICE, what’s a little ole drivers license?

HST