In New Jersey, where there are some 525,000 undocumented immigrants, a resolution by Assemblywoman Annette Quijano of Elizabeth that would make immigrants who are not authorized to be in in the country eligible to get driver's licenses, passed unanimously last week.
Under the bill, New Jersey would be required to issue photo "driving privilege" cards to those residents who are unable to prove that they were in this country legally but are capable of establishing that they live in the state.
"It's about public safety," said state Sen. Joseph Vitale (D-Middlesex), a sponsor. "Some of the undocumented are driving anyway. This isn't to excuse the fact that they're undocumented. But they're on the roads. They're driving. Many uninsured."
A similar but less extensive bill was presented in the Assembly in 2006 and reintroduced in 2008, but it never progressed and never presented in the Senate.
Presidential hopeful , Governor Chris Christie has made it certain that such a proposal would be dead on arrival: "'I'm not giving driver's licenses to people who are undocumented. That's it,' Christie said flatly, speaking on his monthly radio show on New Jersey 101.5."
Several states, such as Puerto Rico included, currently offers driver's licenses to undocumented immigrants.
Notwithstanding the problems in getting the state to issue driving privileges to its undocumented immigrants community. New Jersey is the latest major U.S. city to promote a municipal identification program that will be available to all residents, including those who may have come to the U.S. illegally.
Mayor Ras Baraka signed City Council-approved legislation that makes Newark the largest and lone city in the state to offer ID cards to all residents, regardless of their immigration status.
The program offers all Newark residents aged 14 and older a valid ID card that will grant them access to vital services the city has to offer. It will be especially useful for people in the community such as those with disabilities, youth, seniors, clergy, formerly incarcerated individuals, the homeless, immigrants and transgender people.
The ID program will:
* Serves as proof of identity and proof of residency regardless of immigration status
* Access to cultural Institutions and schools and within the City
* Discounts at the Health and Wellness Center
* Helps residents who do not have access to other forms of identification to interact with city agencies, local authorities and open bank accounts
The Newark Municipal ID cards a pilot program commences on July 1 and then open citywide on August 1.For more information about the municipal ID program, visit: http://www.ci.newark.nj.us/.