Overwhelmingly passed into law in June and supported by over 270 law enforcement, public health, and community leaders, the Work and Family Mobility Act allows all qualified state residents, regardless of immigration status, to apply for a standard Massachusetts state driver’s license beginning July 1, 2023. The bill also puts in place stringent proof of identity requirements for immigrants without status applying for licenses, and keeps in place all safeguards against non-citizen voting.
The bill’s passage made Massachusetts the 17th state to extend driving privileges to immigrants without status. (Rhode Island became the 18th shortly after). Most of our neighboring states now have similar laws. Some states have had similar laws in place for decades.
States from California to Connecticut have seen significantly fewer hit-and-run crashes. Utah and New Mexico have seen uninsured driving drop 80 and 60 percent, respectively. Within the first three years, voting YES ON 4 would also bring the Commonwealth a projected additional $5 million from taxes and $6 million from fees, inspections and other services.
However, an opposition group exploiting disinformation and fear tactics gathered enough signatures to force Question 4 on the ballot. The question threatens to revoke a law that allows immigrants without status to drive to work or take their children to the doctor with a valid driver’s license in their pocket and proper insurance coverage on their car, making the roads safer for everyone in Massachusetts.
A YES vote will keep in place the Work and Family Mobility Act and ensure all drivers on the road are tested, licensed, and insured. A no vote will roll back this critical public safety measure and make our roads less safe.
On November 8, let’s continue moving toward safer roads by keeping the Work and Family Mobility Act in place with a YES Vote on Question 4.
“Voting Yes on 4 is just common sense: all of us will be safer if all drivers on the road pass a driving test, have insurance and have a license. Everyone needs to get to work and get to school, so let’s do everything we can to get people where they’re going safely.”
– Roy Vasque, President, Massachusetts Major Cities Chief of Police Association
Frequently Asked Questions About Ballot Question 4
A YES vote keeps in place the Work and Family Mobility Act, which allows qualified Massachusetts residents to apply for a standard Massachusetts driver’s license regardless of immigration status.
Seventeen other states, plus DC and Puerto Rico, have passed similar laws that allow immigrants without status to apply for a driver’s license, including our neighbors Connecticut, Vermont, Rhode Island and New York. States including California and Connecticut have seen significantly fewer hit-and-run crashes. Utah and New Mexico have seen uninsured driving drop almost 80 and 60 percent.1
1Massachusetts Budget and Policy Center, “Driver’s licenses for immigrants without status – how would it affect Massachusetts?” (April 13, 2021) p. 2 https://massbudget.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/04/DriversLic4briefs_2021_FINAL.pdf
The Work and Family Mobility Act requires that applicants go through the same process everyone else does, including proving their identity, date of birth, and Massachusetts residency, as well as satisfying “all other qualifications for licensure,” including passing a road test.
No to all the above. Getting a driver’s license does not affect or change one’s eligibility for public benefits (which are typically limited to US citizens and non-citizens with particular immigration statuses) or to vote (which only US citizens can do in any state or federal election). A license cannot be leveraged into some sort of immigration status.
Yes! The REAL ID Act of 2005 allows states to provide more than one type of license (i.e., “REAL ID” and “standard” licenses). Like many states, Massachusetts already offers REAL ID and standard licenses and will continue to do so.
No. Quite the opposite. In Massachusetts, voting YES ON 4 is projected to bring an additional $5.1 million in taxes per year and another $5 million from fees, inspections and other services within the first three years..2
2Massachusetts Budget and Policy Center, “Driver’s licenses for immigrants without status – how would it affect Massachusetts?” (April 13, 2021) p. 8 https://massbudget.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/04/DriversLic4briefs_2021_FINAL.pdf
No. A driver’s license does not confer the right to vote, or do anything automatically beyond demonstrating that the license holder is able to drive. “Automatic voter registration” is a misnomer. While U.S. citizens can register to vote at the RMV, the driver’s license application system is structured so that those filling out the application are not registered to vote if they are not eligible.
(The RMV currently processes permits and licenses for some people who are ineligible to vote, such as 16-17 year-old U.S. citizens and adult green card holders, without registering them to vote).