Advocates and Elected Officials Called for the Expansion of Drivers Licenses to All New Jerseyans

The push comes as part of a wave of municipal and county actions that have attracted a broad level of support for this measure 

For Immediate Release

Monday, November 9, 2015

Contact: Johanna Calle, NJAIJ Program Coordinator, 973-474-9850 (office) and 201-580-3060 (cell)

Marlene Peralta, 646.601.4267

Trenton, NJ. – A diverse group of advocates, faith and business leaders, law enforcement and elected officials held a press conference on the steps of the Trenton State House urging for the approval of the legislation that will expand driving license access to all New Jersey residents.

The legislation introduced by Assemblywoman Annette Quijano (D-20) and Senator Joseph Vitale (D-19) in May of this year, has been gaining support for a variety of sectors after a wave of municipal and county actions organized by NJAIJ. Union County Sheriff Joe Cryan and the Hispanic Law Enforcement Association of Essex County are among the latest endorsers.

“Today's press conference is the culmination of months of hard work in seeking a hearing for Assembly Bill 4425, which allows persons who are undocumented be able to apply and test for driver licenses. Every individual should have the ability to apply for a driver’s license in the state of New Jersey,” said Assemblywoman Annette Quijano (D-Elizabeth), the prime sponsor of the bill in the Assembly.

“It’s about everyone driving safely on our roads,” said Senator Joseph Vitale, the prime sponsor of the bill in the Senate.

Twelve states and the District of Columbia already allow undocumented immigrants to drive legally. In New Jersey about 464,000 immigrants would be eligible if the bill is passed, according to the New Jersey Policy Perspective. It would also benefit other vulnerable populations like veterans, the homeless and those formerly incarcerated.

"When I lost my immigration status, I lost my license and, with it, my job, my home and my ability to provide for my family. In New Jersey, driving is a reality of our day-to-day lives, but as immigrants we live in fear just to take our children to school, put food on the table or to go the hospital. We call on the legislature to stand up for immigrant families and pass the drivers license bill,” said Wellington Madeira of Make the Road New Jersey and resident of Elizabeth.

“Being able to drive would allow my daughters to get home from their overnight shifts, without me having to worry about they will get home safely. It would also allow me to be able to take my grandson to school and to the doctor," said Carmela Alza, a parishioner at St. Rose of Lima Church In Newark, and faith in New Jersey Member. "It is good for our immigrant communities, and good for the state as a whole.”

“As a freeholder I feel the bill will add to the safety of all our citizens by having drivers on the road with the proper training, insurance and safer cars.  Economically, local insurance companies will benefit as well as the State of NJ with the license and registration fees,” said Thomas L. Sheppard, Cumberland County Freeholder and President- Eastern Fresh Growers Inc.

"In the Garden State, a driver's license is the key to a better future for undocumented residents," said Kevin Brown, 32BJ Vice President and NJ State Director.  "Workplaces, businesses, the hospital, and in some cases schools are out of reach without a driver’s license. The hardworking people who are part of our communities should be able to drive safely which will help make our roads safer for all.”

About the Legislation A4425/S2925:

*The bill allows New Jerseyans without documents proving their immigration status to apply for a limited license.

*It would say “Federal Limits Apply” on the front, meaning that it could not be used to board flights, for example. The U.S. Department of Homeland Security has approved a similar model in California.