The Connecticut state senate on Thursday narrowly approved a measure that will allow undocumented immigrants to apply for driver's licenses. Democratic Governor Dannel Malloy has pledged to sign the bill, which passed the Senate by a 19-16 vote.
"This bill is first and foremost about public safety. It's about knowing who is driving on our roads, and doing everything we can to make sure those drivers are safe and that they're operating registered, insured vehicles," Gov. Malloy said in a statement. "There's a reason these measures have been supported by local police and city leaders, and that other states are taking similar common-sense steps. They're changes that benefit everyone taking a car out onto our roads and highways."
Malloy also called on the federal government to allow all immigrants to apply for driving licenses.
"It should also be noted that, like many issues, action on the federal level would address this problem in an even more comprehensive and sensible way. I continue to support those broader efforts at national reform, and urge Congress to follow the example being set by Connecticut and other states," Malloy went on to say.
Immigrant rights advocates are also applauding the decision.
I know there are a lot of people who don't think this makes sense but really it does benefit all of us in terms of reduced insurance premiums. The fact that you won't have a bunch of uninsured drivers on the road, the fact they will be paying fee revenue to the state," Angel Fernandez-Cavero of the immigrants right group CONNECT told WTNH.
The new law, which will make 54,000 undocumented immigrants eligible for a driving license, takes effect on January 1, 2015. (There are about 120,000 illegal immigrants in Connecticut, according to Reuters.)
Maryland, Illinois and Oregon adopted similar legislation that allows undocumented immigrants to apply for driving licenses this year. New Mexico, Washington and Utah have permitted undocumented immigrants to apply for drivers licenses for several years.