100+ Latino Leaders Call on Legislative Leadership, Gov. Murphy to Pass Driver’s License Legislation Immediately
Leading Latino Faith, Law Enforcement, Business, Elected and Legal Leaders and Activists Urge “Immediate Action” to Expand Licenses to More than Half Million New Jersey Drivers
April 3, 2019. Today, more than one hundred Latino leaders sent a letter to state legislative leadership and Governor Murphy to urge immediate passage of legislation that would expand access to drivers licenses. The legislation, A 4743/S3229, introduced late last year by Assemblywoman Annette Quijano and Senator Joe Vitale,would expand access to driver’s licenses to more qualified New Jersey drivers, including those who face barriers because of their immigration status, individuals reentering society after incarceration and survivors of domestic violence. Despite widespread popular support, the legislation has stalled in the state legislature. Dozens of clergy members, former state Attorney General Zulima Farber, Statewide Hispanic Chamber of CommercePresident and CEO Carlos Medina and nearly a dozen elected officials joined the one hundred plus Latino leaders to sign the letter.
“On behalf of the Statewide Hispanic Chamber of Commerce of New Jersey and its 120,000 members, I urge you to take immediate action to pass A4743/S3229, a comprehensive and common sense proposal that will expand access to driver’s licenses to all New Jerseyans, regardless of immigration status. The proposal to expand access to driver’s licenses to all residents, regardless of immigration status, will allow customers of immigrant- and Hispanic-owned businesses to have more purchasing power. New Jersey’s Hispanic immigrant households spending power is estimated to be $13.8 billion, the sixth highest in the nation, but it could be greater with increased mobility and independence,” said Carlos Medina, President and CEO, Statewide Hispanic Chamber of Commerce of New Jersey.
“Federal attacks on immigrants continue to increase the negative perception of our community, and we must rely on our state legislators to stand up in support of our community and enact proactive immigration policies. Specifically, the proposal for a driver license for all residents based on common sense policy and public safety. With this legislation, we can ensure that all drivers are licensed and insured. I urge our legislators to act now and pass the bill, as further delay will prevent our residents from thriving in our communities,” Arlene Quinones Perez, Esq., Chair, Hunterdon County Democratic Committee.
“Perth Amboy has the highest share of Hispanic residents in all of New Jersey, and many of my constituents live in mixed-status households,” said Perth Amboy Mayor Wilda Diaz.“Without the ability to legally drive, these families face barriers in getting to work, taking their children to school, going food shopping, and completing all of the other errands that fill the day. That’s why I urge the Legislature to move forward the bill to expand access to driver’s licenses to all residents. This will make roads safer for all New Jerseyans, as more drivers are trained, tested, and insured, while providing mixed-status families with the opportunity to become empowered.
“The Latinx community of New Jersey, like all others, values our public safety. When driver’s licenses are denied to large segments of our state, including undocumented immigrants, working class people, and the formerly incarcerated, they are disproportionately denied to Latinx community as well. To become a more inclusive and fairer New Jersey, our legislators must support laws that have the potential to empower a large and vital part of the Garden State’s Latinx population while simultaneously promoting our collective economic growth and public safety. That’s what this bill does.” Juan Cartagena, President and General Counsel, LatinoJUSTICE
“The REAL ID Act disproportionately impacts the Latino community. For a more prosperous NJ, we need this bill now to provide relief for a massive section of New Jersey’s economy that is responsible for millions of dollars in tax revenue. Driving is a necessity in New Jersey for working families and individuals who need to get to work, school, medical centers, and more,” Hon. Germaine M. Ortiz, Chairwoman, Bergen County Board of Chosen Freeholders
“The Latino vote is a powerful force in New Jersey. In the fight for a fair New Jersey, this legislation has the potential to empower a large and vital piece of the population. Hundreds of thousands of people are impacted, and they will bring the state millions in new revenue from license fees and registration and pump millions more back into the economy. We urge the legislature to act now to support working Latino families,” Hon. Sergio Granados, Union County Freeholder.
Latinos are the second largest ethnic group in New Jersey, making up nearly 20 percent of the state’s population and 15 percent of the electorate in New Jersey. Nearly one million Latinos eligible to vote. More than half of all Latinos residing in New Jersey are U.S. born. According to the New American Economy, Latino-led households in New Jersey wield $13.9 billion in purchasing power and pay $4.2 billion in taxes. Expanding access to drivers licenses would aid more than 700,000 qualified drivers to obtain a license, infusing millions into the state’s coffers in license and registration fees and boosting the local economy.
The Star Ledger Editorial Board has supported expanding access to licenses to undocumented immigrants in three recent editorials. Today, the Star Ledger published an OpEd by Patricia Campos Medina in support of expanding access to drivers licenses, available here: https://www.nj.com/opinion/2019/04/ignore-trumps-rhetoric-and-expand-access-to-drivers-licenses-activist-says.html.
Governor Phil Murphy
225 West State St.
Trenton, NJ 08608
Senate President Stephen Sweeney
125 West State St.
Trenton, NJ 08608
Assembly Speaker Craig Coughlin
125 West State St.
Trenton, NJ 08608
April 3, 2019
To the Honorable Gov. Murphy, Senate President Sweeney and Assembly Speaker Coughlin:
We, the undersigned leaders from Latino communities across New Jersey urge you to take
immediate action to pass A4743/S3229, a comprehensive, common sense bill that will expand
access to driver’s licenses to more qualified New Jersey drivers, including those who face
barriers because of their immigration status, individuals reentering society after incarceration
and survivors of domestic violence. On behalf of the 1.8 million Latinos in NJ, we call upon you,
our state’s elected leaders, to enact this legislation without delay.
Latinos are the second largest ethnic group in New Jersey, making up nearly 20 percent of the
state’s population. We are 15 percent of the electorate in New Jersey, with nearly one million
Latinos eligible to vote. Our community is diverse and strong. More than half of all Latinos
residing in New Jersey are U.S. born. According to the New American Economy, Latino-led
households in New Jersey wield $13.9 billion in purchasing power and pay $4.2 billion in taxes.
We stand with our immigrant brothers and sisters as they face unprecedented attacks from the
federal government. Immigrants are the backbone of our economy in New Jersey. Across the
Garden State, immigrants make up nearly half of all business owners and contribute $4.4 billion
every year, according to New Jersey Policy Perspective. They are job makers, not job takers.
Expanding access to licenses to the undocumented will ensure that more immigrants are able to
participate fully in our economy by taking their kids to school, going grocery shopping and
purchasing cars, insurance and gas. New Jersey’s undocumented immigrants, 60 percent of
whom are Latino, pay about $587 million each year in state and local taxes. About 8 percent or
605,000 U.S. citizens in New Jersey have at least one undocumented family member.
About 168,000 kids have at least one undocumented parent; these kids deserve the same
opportunities as any child in the Garden State, but when their parents can’t access a driver’s
license, they are left at a disadvantage.
Immigrants are not the only group that stands to benefit from expanding access to driver’s
licenses. New Jersey Policy Perspective estimates 719,418 individuals will be newly eligible to
drive if A4743/S3229 is passed into law. This includes the formerly incarcerated, survivors of
domestic violence and low income individuals who face barriers to accessing the documentation
to obtain a license. In addition, as New Jersey implements the federal REAL ID Act, more
citizens may wish to obtain a state-purpose only standard driver’s license to protect their
Expanding access to driver’s licenses will help Latino families across the state to prosper and
live with security. It will also enhance safety on the roads for all New Jerseyans. We are all safer
when more drivers are licensed, tested and insured. We urge you to take action immediately to
pass this common sense legislation into law.
Adriana Abizadeh, Executive Director, Latin American Legal Defense and Education Fund
Aida Epifanio-Figueroa, Board Member LUPE PAC and New Leaders Council, Camden, NJ
Alexandra Acosta, Executive Board Member, Latino American Democratic Association
Analilia Mejia, Former Executive Director, Working Families Alliance NJ
Angel Fuentes, President, Hispanic Leadership Association of New Jersey
Antonio Hernandez, President, National Coalition of Latino Officers
April Lopez, President, UndocuRutgers
Arlene Quinones Perez, Chair, Hunterdon County Democratic Committee
Blanca Molina, President, Centro Comunitario CEUS
Brian Lozano, Wind of the Spirit
Carlos Medina, President & CEO, Statewide Hispanic Chamber of Commerce of New Jersey
Celeste Fernandez, 2nd Vice President of the Hispanic Association of Atlantic County
Christian Estevez, President, Latino Action Network
Craig Garcia, Director of Worker Organizing, Make the Road New Jersey
Cristina Pinzon, Executive Board Member, LUPE PAC
Daniela Velez, Director, UndocuJersey
David Ortiz, Steering Committee Member, Latino Action Network
Denise Fernandes, NJ Co-State Lead, All On the Line
Diego Maya, The Latino Spirit
Elisa Charters, Steering Committee Member, Latino Action Network
Emy Quispe, NJ Political Organizer, SEIU Local 32BJ
Erika J. Nava, Policy Analyst, New Jersey Policy Perspective
Ervin Chavez, President, Guatemalan Civic Association of Mercer County
Estuardo Arriola, President, Guatemalan Business Association
Frank Argote-Freyre, President Emeritus, Latino Action Network and Director, Latino Coalition of
Freddy Rambay, Chairman, Latinos Siempre Unidos
Giancarlo Tello, Program Director, UndocuJersey
Gino Hernandez, Community Leader, Trenton, NJ
Guillermo C. Artiles, Esq., Partner, McCarter & English LLP
Hon. Angel G. Estrada, Union County Freeholder
Hon. E. Junior Maldonado, Hudson County Clerk
Hon. Felisha Reyes, Camden City Council Ward 4 Rep.
Hon. Germaine M. Ortiz, Chairwoman, Bergen County Board of Chosen Freeholders
Hon. Hector Lora, Mayor of Passaic
Hon. Sergio Granados, Union County Freeholder
Hon. Wilda Diaz, Mayor of Perth Amboy
Javier Robles, Executive Vice President, Latino Action Network/President, ThisAbled.com
Jennifer Rodriguez, Assistant Director, UndocuJersey
Jesus R Galvis, President, Hispanic-USA of Bergen County
Johanna Calle, Director, New Jersey Alliance for Immigrant Justice and Trustee, Hackensack
Board of Education
Jorge Torres, Organizer, Faith in New Jersey
Joseph A. Barreto, President, Latino American Democratic Association
Juan Cartagena, President and General Counsel, LatinoJUSTICE
Karol Y. Ruiz, Esq., Co-President, Wind of the Spirit Immigrant Resource Center
Rev. Karen Hernandez-Granzen, Westminster Presbyterian Church, Trenton, NJ
Kat Esquiche, Director of Education at Global Emergency Response and Assistance (GERA)
Laura Matos, Vice President, LUPE PAC
Laura Mora, Latin American Legal Defense and Education Fund
Lazaro Cardenas, Steering Committee Member, Latino Action Network
Lydia J. Valencia, CEO/President, NJ Puerto Rican Congress, Inc.
Manuel Hernandez, Trenton Latino Merchants Association
Maria Andrade, Vice President, Latino Action Network
Marino Pozo, Trustee, LALDEF and former President, Latino Merchants Association of NJ
Mario Lopez, President, Coalition of Peruvian Institutions in NJ
Mateus Baptista, Advisory Board Chair, New Leaders Council NJ
Melvi Davila, Director of Peruvian American Political organizations
Nedia Morsy, Lead Organizer, Make the Road New Jersey
NJ Coalition of Latino Pastors and Ministers
Bishop Antonio A. Merino, President
Rev. Ariel Torres, Hudson
Rev. Barbara Perez, Essex
Rev. Bernardio Corniel, Hudson
Rev. Bolivar Flores, Vice President
Rev. Candido Perez, Hudson
Rev. Carlos Perez, Hudson
Rev. Edmundo Lopez, Mercer
Rev. Emmanuel de la Cruz, Ocean
Chaplain Esmeralda Trinidad, Hudson
Rev. Freddy Gonzalez, Cumberland
Rev. Freddy Liriano, Atlantic
Rev. Gigi Esparza, Ocean
Rev. Ibraim Garcia, Camden
Rev. Jose Castro, Union
Rev. Jose Paulino, Monmouth
Rev. Joshua Rodriguez, Senior Advisor
Rev. Lizett Castillo, Essex
Pastor Madeline Ballejos, Hudson
Rev. Orlando Sanchez, Middlesex
Rev. Oscar Garvan, Union
Rev. Oscar Guerrero, Mercer
Rev. Pablo Pizarro, Essex
Rev. Ramon Pagan, Passaic
Rev. Raul Otero, Middlesex
Rev. Renato Castro, Union
Capellan Vivian Tavera, Bergen
Rev. Willie Del Tore, Hudson
Patricia Campos Medina, President of LUPE PAC
Robert Medina, Business leader and Activist
Roberto Frugone, Consultant, The Frugone Group
Ron Bautista, Hoboken Activist
Rudy A. Rojas, Immigration Committee Chair, Latino Action Network
Rudy Garcia, President, MBI
Saily M. Avelenda, Esq., Executive Director, NJ 11th for Change
Sara Mora, DREAMer and Youth Empower Council
Santiago Rodriguez, Councilman-at-Large, City of Trenton
Sonia Delgado, Princeton Public Affairs principal
Susana G Baumann, President and CEO, Latinas in Business Inc.
Teresa Vivar, Lazos America Unida/Mexican American Organization of New Jersey
Wendy Martinez, Government Affairs Director, NJ Association of Latino Pastors and Ministers
Zulima Farber, Former Attorney General of New Jersey