Several Democrat lawmakers in Rhode Island are again floating a bill in the state’s legislature to give drivers’ licenses to illegal immigrants, after suffering defeat in the past.
A pair of Providence Democrats, State Sen. Frank Ciccone and Rep. Anastasia Williams, have introduced the bill modeled, they say, on the successful bill in nearby Connecticut.
According to the New Haven Register, the pair added “a few more safeguards” to their bill in hopes of reversing the defeat a similar proposal suffered last year.
One provision would color code the licenses to distinguish them from those of natural born or naturalized citizens. Illegal immigrants would also not be allowed to apply for the licenses until they can prove they’ve resided in the state for at least two years. The bill also purports to say the new licenses wouldn’t be allowed for use as a form of identification.
Terry Gorman of Rhode Islanders for Immigration Law Enforcement denounced the bills, saying it would only act as a draw for more illegal immigrants to move to Rhode Island.
Last year, Rhode Island’s Democrat Governor Gina Raimondo backed off her campaign promise to institute drivers licenses for illegal immigrants, saying granting the licenses is a “safety issue” that needed more study. As her first year in office came to a close last year, Raimondo hadn’t even submitted a plan, even though she promised to do so before her first year was up.
Still, Raimondo said she intended to review the newest legislation.
“The good news is that because many other states and cities have already done this successfully, there are models we can look at to get something passed,” she said.
If Rhode Island were to pass the legislation The Plantation State would join such states as California, Colorado, Connecticut, Illinois, Maryland, Nevada, New Mexico, Utah, Vermont, and Washington, along with the District of Columbia in issuing licenses for illegal immigrants.
Nearly 37 percent of the illegal immigrant population live in the 11 jurisdictions that offer driver’s licenses, or about 4.1 million illegal immigrants.
Lending credence to Terry Gorman’s argument, according to Pew, five of the 11 jurisdictions that currently offer illegal immigrants driver’s licenses have a greater percentage of illegal immigrants than the national average of 3.5 percent — namely California (6.3 percent), Illinois (3.7 percent), Maryland (4.3 percent), Nevada (7.6 percent), and Utah (3.6 percent).
Follow Warner Todd Huston on Twitter @warnerthuston, or email the author at firstname.lastname@example.org.