Essex County Unanimously Passes Resolution in Support of a State Driver’s Licenses for Immigrants

Hundreds in Essex County gather in support of a unanimous resolution urging the state legislature to issue licenses to undocumented immigrants

For Immediate Release

October 29, 2015

Contact: Vera Parra, Community Organizer, Faith in New Jersey, 917-519-7656 – [email protected]

Newark – Over 500 community members gathered yesterday in support as Essex County passed a unanimous resolution urging the state government to enact legislation allowing the Motor Vehicle Commission to issue driver licenses to individuals who cannot provide proof of lawful presence in the United States. Essex County is the fourth to pass a resolution in support of Drivers Licenses, joining Union, Hudson, and Cumberland Counties. The vote signals growing momentum in support for pending legislation [S2925 and A4425] that would allow undocumented immigrants to obtain licenses for the purposes of driving in the state, after being properly tested and insured.

Following the vote, Freeholder Rolando Bobadilla addressed hundreds of supporters assembled on the steps of the Hall of Records encouraging community members to continue fighting for the bill in Trenton. Thirteen other states already have this type of policy and have seen lower number of unlicensed drivers on the roads, therefore making them safer for everyone. 

"The American Friends Service Committee applauds the effort of Essex County in support of driver license for the undocumented. New Jersey is home to more that 500,000 undocumented immigrants with the vast majority residing in Essex county,” says Alix Nguefack, Newark resident and Detention Project Coordinator at the AFSC. “They are parents and care takers who see driving not as a luxury but as a necessity, thus expanding driver license to this community is not just the right thing to do, it is the safest thing to do, this will make our community stronger and our road safer."

New Labor member and Newark resident Trulio Sarango said last night, “expanding access to licenses means the freedom to be able to get better jobs, and to be able to spend time with my family rather than getting home so late because of my long commute.”

“Being able to drive would improve my family’s quality of life, by expanding work opportunities, and helping us access the healthcare we need,” said Carmela Alza, a parishioner at St. Rose of Lima Church in Newark and Faith In New Jersey member. “Now that Newark has approved municipal IDs for immigrants, the next step is passing driver’s licenses in New Jersey. It is good for our immigrant communities, and good for the state as a whole.”

The New Jersey Alliance for Immigrant Justice members have been working to pass driver licenses in New Jersey as part of the New Jersey For All campaign, which aims to advance policies that address the need for expanded access to driver’s licenses, the lack of government-issued identification in the immigrant community, wage theft, and the separation of immigrant families.