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Majority Leader Winkler and Coalition Kick Off 2019 Push for Driver’s Licenses for All

Thursday, February 21, 2019

Majority Leader Winkler and Coalition Kick Off 2019 Push for Driver’s Licenses for All

St. Paul, Minnesota — Today, Minnesota House Majority Leader Ryan Winkler and a statewide, multi-organization coalition kicked off their 2019 legislative efforts for driver’s licenses for all, regardless of immigration status.

“Immigrants came here for the promise of freedom and opportunity, and they contribute to the culture, economy, and community of our state,” said Majority Leader Winkler. “All Minnesotans deserve to be able to work, live and take care of their families. Ensuring everyone has access to driver’s licenses will improve public safety for everyone, grow the state economy, and treat our immigrant communities with dignity and respect. This is the year for us to get this done.”

"Denying immigrants the right to a driver’s license means we’re denying people living in our communities access to jobs and opportunity, endangering public safety, and criminalizing families’ efforts to participate in civic life,” added state Representative Aisha Gomez (DFL - Minneapolis). “That’s destructive for families, for businesses, and for Minnesota. It’s time to make our roads safer, and to reject a politics that would divide people living side by side as neighbors."

All Minnesotans used to be able to get a driver’s license regardless of immigration status, until the rule was changed in 2003, making it impossible for undocumented immigrants to obtain a legal driver’s license.

Jovita Morales with the Minnesota Immigrant Movement explained why this bill is so important to families across Minnesota.

"To me, passing this bill would mean I would be able to wake up calm and at peace for my family, neighbors and the community in which we live. It would mean coming home and being able to kiss and hug our children, dads, uncles, brothers, sisters, wife, husband and our grandparents," said Morales. "We know that in our society that the happiness and tranquility of our families is tied to being able to drive a car and go to work and take our children to the doctor, to the school, to wash the laundry, all while having the security of returning home and embracing our families. I'm excited to be here today to make this a reality for families across Minnesota."

Veronica Orellana, a student from Worthington and daughter of UFCW Local 663 member, shared what this bill would mean for her family.

"My mother and father work hard to provide for our family. They work to build us a better life together. As the next generation, I see that everyday," said Orellana. "I see that every Minnesotan deserves the chance to live, grow and go wherever we want to, without fear. That’s why I’m supporting this bill."

Jenny Srey, a resident of Farmington co-director of ReleaseMN8 — an organization that works at the intersection of criminal justice and immigration — added that the current law generates fear that hurts our economy and our families.

"For many of us, the commute from Farmington to St. Paul represents a normal activity. However, for a member of my family, the fear of not having a driver’s license prevents them from having steady employment to support a family and contribute to Minnesota’s economy," said Srey. "Our current system keeps loved ones apart, creating challenges around checking on elderly family members, school pick-ups and drop offs as well as doctors’ visits. I am here in support of this bill because I believe all Minnesotans should drive safely and without fear."

The License Access and Public Safety Act will be formally introduced during Thursday’s floor session.

The Freedom to Drive MN coalition is a statewide coalition of non-profit organizations, unions, immigrants’ rights advocates, community-based groups and collectives, faith-based organizations, workers’ rights advocates and businesses led by the Multiracial Coalition on Immigration.