New Jersey Governor Chris Christie has announced that there will be no bill established that gives undocumented immigrants the right to apply for state driver’s licenses. This comes as a blow to hundreds of people who rallied at the statehouse on November 16 in support of the potential bill, which would make their lives considerably easier.
In a statement, Christie revealed he was “disturbed by the Legislature even considering making undocumented individuals eligible for New Jersey driver’s licenses.” According to the Republican presidential hopeful, lawmakers shouldn’t considering the idea because a driver’s license is the most important piece of identification someone can possess for security purposes. Christie also said that if the bill were ever to cross his desk “it would be vetoed immediately. Protecting the security of the people of New Jersey is the governor’s single most important responsibility.”
Christie’s comments come only a few months after his idea to track visitors to the United States using biometric technology, in order to find out if they’re overstaying their visas and intending to immigrate.
One of the organizers of the rally, Juan Pablo Orjuela, said the potential license measure is important because there are many immigrants in New Jersey who require a car to get to work, and it could promote safety by encouraging car owners to buy insurance for their vehicles.
The New Jersey Assembly’s homeland security committee had a lot to say when it considered the measure on November 16, with Democratic Assemblywoman – and author of the intended bill – Annette Quijano declaring “It’s important for these individuals because they want to come out of the shadows.”
However, in opposition to that, a GOP assemblyperson asserted that granting licenses to people without any verification of their identity or status in the United States is just encouragement for criminals. The issuance of a driver’s license allows people to purchase firearms and board airplanes, which some see as an invitation for terrorism or other illegal activities to take place undetected – a fear undoubtedly spurred by the rise of ISIS and the recent attacks on Paris.
A similar measure was proposed back in 2009 by then-Governor Jon Corzine, but much like the present bill, it never went anywhere due to too much opposition.
New Jersey state, according the Pew Research Center, has the fifth highest numbers of undocumented immigrants in the United States – an estimated 520,000 – and is one of the few states to show a marked increase of immigration since numbers started to drop nationally between 2009 and 2012.
If you or someone you know would like legal consultation regarding these matters or any others related to immigration, please get in touch with Daniella Lyttle at Lyttle Law Firm. You can send an enquiry through the website or by calling 512-215-5225.