Another fight is brewing over the undocumented immigrant driver’s license law

Lawmakers say the rules undermine the intentions of the law.

This sign of a mock up of a license plate was seen outside the Massachusetts State House in June. David L Ryan/Globe Staff

The Massachusetts law allowing undocumented immigrants to obtain driver’s licenses has entered into yet another legal fray.

WBUR reported Monday that lawmakers who created and passed the law voiced strong objections to the RMV’s proposed implementation rules during a hearing Friday.

Their first objection, WBUR reported, is to the RMV’s proposed requirement that people without a social security number, which is normally required to obtain a license, submit a letter attesting that they do not have a social security number. Due to the way the RMV’s rule is constructed, only undocumented immigrants would be applying this way.

Lawmakers argued the rule is problematic because it would create a permanent record showing who is undocumented — something they have been actively avoiding requiring as part of the law, WBUR reported.


State Sen. Brendan Crighton said this could allow federal immigration officials to get information on undocumented immigrants through the RMV, which has happened in other states, WBUR reported.

The legislators’ second objection is to the RMV’s proposal that those unable to show legal residency provide “at least two documents” proving their identity, such as a foreign passport, driver’s license, or marriage license, WBUR reported.

State Rep. Tricia Farley-Bouvier said the words “at least two” would allow RMV employees to demand as many documents from applicants as they like, WBUR reported.

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In all of the other 16 states with similar laws, the exact number of necessary documents is specified so that there is no ambiguity.

While the lawmakers are requesting such changes, a MassDOT spokeswoman told WBUR the department will consider the feedback “carefully and thoroughly” before submitting their finalized rules.

The Work and Family Mobility Act is intended to boost public safety by allowing undocumented immigrants to learn to drive safely without risking deportation. It allows them to obtain Massachusetts driver’s permits and licenses, but not federal REAL IDs which will eventually be necessary for domestic air travel.

The controversial law, which was passed by the Legislature earlier this year, has survived several challenges.


A month ago, the law survived an attempt at repeal through a ballot question, with 53.6% of voters opting to keep it on the books. Before that, Gov. Charlie Baker vetoed the law, but was overridden by a supermajority in the Legislature.

The law is set to go into effect July 1.


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