Hundreds of marchers gathered outside the Statehouse calling for New Jersey to expand access to driver’s licenses for communities across the state.
On Thursday, September 6th, more than 500 New Jersey residents rallied in front of the Trenton Statehouse to demand expanding access to driver’s licenses to more residents in the state. Speakers at the rally included faith leaders, advocates, and residents who need to drive but are not able to get a driver’s licenses. Residents who are most marginalized are most affected by not being able to get a driver’s license, including undocumented immigrants, seniors and victims of violence including immigrants with insecure status such as DACA recipients and TPS holders. Families and communities are negatively impacted when community members not able to access a driver’s license because parents are not able to drive their children to school or to doctors appointments. Currently, more than half a million residents in New Jersey are unable to drive safely because of outdated policies that prevent access to driver’s licenses.
Speakers call for New Jersey to expand access to driver’s licenses to all qualified driver’s and spoke about the need for people and families to have access to a driver’s licenses.
“As an immigrant from Honduras, DACA recipient, student, and a daughter of an undocumented mother, I know that a driver's license are a necessity for work, school and every day commutes. As a community organizer of Wind of the Spirit, Immigrant Resource Center, I have witnessed first hand the injustice and mistreatment of one of our members simply because he did not have a license,” said Madelyne Montes-Reyes, Community Organizer, Wind of the Spirit -- Immigrant Resource Program. “I stand in solidarity because I recognize my duty to stand with my community. My liberation is bound to all people of color, working class, and undocumented communities. My liberty is bound to all, and until they are all free, I will never be free. Therefore, the fight for licenses continues.”
“It’s up to our state leaders to counteract the unjust policies of the federal government, and part of that means making driver’s licenses available to those who need them,” said ACLU-NJ Executive Director Amol Sinha. “The process of getting a license can be impossible for undocumented immigrants, transgender New Jerseyans, and people without permanent addresses -- and it’s about to get harder for all New Jerseyans as our state implements federal Real ID standards. It’s time for our legislators to act and create avenues for getting driver’s licenses.”
“As an immigrant youth and a DACA recipient I hold many responsibilities: to sustain my jobs, to finish my degree, and to help my family with transportation; all of which would not be feasible without a drivers license. I am coming here today from Toms River, NJ nearly 1 and ½ hrs away and will be heading to my graduate class at The College of New Jersey in Ewing after the rally. Let 2018 be the year our families are eligible for licenses,” said Adriana Gonzalez Delgado, Community Leader at Latino American Legal Education Fund.
Twelve states and Washington, D.C. have expanded access to driver’s licenses to qualified drivers, regardless of immigration status.
New Jersey could 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 legislation to create a new state-purpose driver’s license for qualified drivers that could 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.