Hundreds of Newark Residents Rally in Support of Expanding Access to Driver’s Licenses in New Jersey
Newark, NJ-- Hundreds of community members rallied in support of expanding access to driver’s licenses to more residents. Community leaders and elected officials spoke about the need of families to be able to get tested and trained to drive safely on New Jersey roads.
Experts estimate that more than 500,000 residents in New Jersey currently do not have access to driver’s licenses. This includes undocumented immigrants, some seniors, survivors of violence, and transgender and gender nonconforming members of the LGBT community.
Newark is one of many municipalities in the state that has passed a resolution in support of expanding access to driver’s licenses to more residents. Mayor Ras Baraka, along with Senator Teresa Ruiz and Assemblywoman Annette Quijano spoke at the rally in support of the cause.
"Every resident in New Jersey needs to be able to access a driver’s license regardless of their immigration status. It is a matter of road and public safety. Without access to a license, families are at risk for separation in New Jersey. No mother or father should be detained for simply taking their kids to school or doctor’s appointments," said Assemblywoman Annette Quijano. "As we push to expand access, we want to make sure people's data won't be collected and their privacy is respected."
“Having a driver's license will greatly help survivors of violence avoid possible major misfortunes that too often go hand in hand with domestic violence such as homicides, suicides, and parricides. It will offer the possibility of having a great open door that allows a person escape abuse by going to another city, to another state, to another neighborhood, to seek help with family, friends or authorities. Simply having a document to identify themselves, will help them find safety for themselves as well as the silent and collateral victims of abuse like their children and the elderly.” said Rita Barba, Sammasati Family Development.
"Immigrants with insecure status in New Jersey need to be licensed in a way that give them a form of state identification and guarantees more safety on the roads. This will help families and communities all over New Jersey,” said Olga Morales, Community Leader, New Labor.
New Jersey would become the 13th state to expand access to driver’s licenses in the U.S., following states like California, Utah, Washington, and the District of Columbia which have successfully implemented similar expansions. In January, Assemblywoman Annette Quijano re-introduced the New Jersey Safe and Responsible Driver Act (A1738). The legislation would create a new state-purpose driver’s license for qualified drivers but it would not be used for federal purposes such as flying or public benefits. Governor Phil Murphy has expressed support for this legislation..
The Let’s Drive NJ Campaign is supported by a diverse array of faith, labor and community organizations from across the state. More information about the campaign can be found at LetsDriveNJ.org.