Bill allowing driver's licenses for undocumented immigrants unveiled at Capitol

A bill that would let everyone in Minnesota drive no matter their immigration status is getting a lot of attention at the state capitol.

While it has support, some lawmakers are arguing that it poses a threat to public safety.

“A lot of people are scared to drive,” said Veronica Orellana, a supporter of the bill. “But a lot will drive regardless of them being able to or not. So, if this bill doesn’t pass, they’ll still roam the streets regardless.”

18-year-old Orellana is a DACA recipient from Worthington, Minn. She is one of a couple hundred people who crowded into the capitol Thursday to push for driver’s licenses for all.

“We have very high hopes that this will succeed,” said House Majority Leader Ryan Winkler.

A person is not required to demonstrate United States citizenship or lawful presence in the United States in order to obtain a non-compliant driver’s license or identification card.

Non-complaint means one that does not meet Real-ID standards.

“This law and this approach was the law in Minnesota until 2002,” Winkler said.

There are an estimated 95,000 undocumented immigrants in Minnesota and many of them just drive anyway without passing a driving test or having proper insurance.

That is why law enforcement is behind the bill as is the hospitality lobby.

“Restaurants, hotels and resorts are highly dependent on immigrant workers to staff them and we know, at this time, we’re experiencing a huge workforce shortage in our state,” said Liz Rammer.

So is Archbishop Bernard Hebda, who calls the bill a moral imperative.

“In our parishes, most of which serve undocumented persons and their families, the inability to drive or doing so without a license is a major source of stress,” said Hebda.