N.H. House Passes Bill To Allow Undocumented Immigrants to Get a Driver’s License

Mar 21, 2019

The New Hampshire House passed a bill Wednesday that would allow residents in the state who do not have a social security card to get a driver's license.

 

Supporters of the measure say undocumented immigrants already living in the state should be able to drive to work and transport family members without breaking the law. They argue that many are already driving without licenses and this bill would make roads safer.

 

"Undocumented people who live in our state may have come here at a young age for no fault of their own," said Rep. Casey Conley, a Democrat from Dover, who spoke in favor of the bill.

 

Eden Suoth attended a hearing on the measure earlier this month. He works with a non-profit that advocates for New Hampshire's Indonesian community. He said driver’s licenses are a big concern for people in his circle who are in various stages of applying for asylum.

 

"They [driver's licenses] have real material consequences in our community, whether it's material consequences through health consequences of the anxiety of driving every day, or the material consequence of not being able to provide for your families and participate in the labor force,” Suoth said.

 

Before the vote Wednesday, Rep. Sherman Packard, a Republican from Londonderry, suggested the law would amount to a reward for people circumventing the law.

 

"This group of people have broken federal laws by either entering the country illegally or by staying past their visas,” Packard said.

 

The New Hampshire DMV said it's strongly opposed to the bill.

 

“The implementation of the proposed bill would increase opportunities for fraudulent activity regarding identity documentation and documentation related to proof of New Hampshire residency,” a DMV spokesperson said in an email.

 

Several states -- including Connecticut and Vermont -- have adopted similar measures.

 

The bill passed the House mostly along party lines, with Democrats largely in favor. It now goes to the Senate for review.