Minnesota Drivers’ Licenses and Immigrants

Minnesota Drivers’ Licenses and Immigrants

As people of faith, we believe that every human being has sacred worth and is created in the image of God. The current situation in our nation where millions of immigrant families live in fear of separation, vulnerable to abuse, and unable to fully live out their God-given gifts is morally unacceptable.  Only our President and U.S. Congress can fix our broken immigration system.

Retreat1

In early April, 150 ISAIAH Campaign for Citizenship leaders gathered in a daylong retreat to pray and discern the next steps to take in moving forward their vision for a more racially and economically equitable community.

We know that immigrants in Minnesota are our fellow workers and neighbors, deserving dignity, just treatment, and freedom of movement. They are our sisters and brothers who contribute to the well-being of our communities.

The mass deportations resulting from our broken immigration system continues to devastate families while violating our faith and our values. For many, the deportation process begins when they are stopped in their cars and sent to jail simply because they do not have, and cannot legally acquire, a valid Minnesota driver’s license.

While restricting driving licenses does not help solve the problem of our broken immigrant system, the sad reality is that many deportations begin when immigrants are stopped in their cars and sent to jail simply because they do not have, and cannot legally acquire, a valid Minnesota driver’s license.  They live in fear every time they drive their child to school, go to the supermarket down the street, or go to work.

Drivers who are not permitted to apply for a Minnesota driver’s license also are excluded from the testing process that promotes safer roads.  According to the AAA Foundation for Public Safety, unlicensed drivers are almost five times more likely to be in a fatal car accident than licensed drivers.  They are also more likely to drive without auto insurance which causes the price of insurance to be higher for everyone.

The current rules which bar undocumented immigrants from obtaining a driver’s license in Minnesota went into effect in 2003.  Prior to that date, persons without lawful immigration status could and did obtain licenses.  Many Minnesota immigrants who received licenses before 2003 continue to have legal licenses to this day.  Currently, 11 states allow undocumented drivers to become licensed.  ISAIAH’s leaders are beginning a campaign to make Minnesota the 12th state to license undocumented immigrants.

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