Illegal immigrants in Connecticut will soon be able to obtain legal state driver’s licenses under a new program approved by the legislature in 2013.
Starting at noon on December 1, illegals will be allowed to begin applying for licenses or driver’s permits. Applicants must be 16 or older and must pass the written driver’s test, officials say.
The program was approved by the legislature in Hartford in 2013 and will go into full force on January 2, 2015. The law maintains that applicants must have two forms of identification but don’t need legal status or a Social Security number.
In preparation for the launch of the 2015 program, the state has spent tens of thousands of tax dollars revising driver’s manuals and website pages and hiring and training Department of Motor Vehicle (DMV) employees so that Spanish-speaking applicants will be better able to understand the requirements.
It was initially estimated that the program would cost $1.3 million over the next two years.
“Our goal is to make this work as easily as possible for our undocumented residents who may have been waiting a long time to obtain this credential, which can open many doors for them,” DMV spokesman William Seymour told the media.
Supporters claim that the licenses will allow people who are currently driving illegally to be better, safer drivers because they will no longer fear being arrested for driving violations or accidents.
In 2013, Connecticut Governor Dannel Malloy claimed the bill was a “public safety” measure.
“This bill is first and foremost about public safety,” Malloy said. “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. “
Connecticut Republicans, however, opposed the bill. Danbury Republican Senator Michael McLachlan said it was not the state’s job to fix the immigration problem. Other Republicans complained that giving illegal immigrants licenses is the wrong decision because it is too much like rewarding them for breaking the law.
No Republicans supported the measure, and two Democrats joined the Republicans in opposition when the bill passed nearly two years ago.
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