March 31, 2023


ST. PAUL, Minn. (Feb. 23, 2017) — ISAIAH is disappointed the Minnesota State House of Representatives voted today to pass a REAL ID bill which slams the door on immigrant families.

The issue of immigrant access to driver’s licenses does not belong in the REAL ID bill. This bill would slam the door on hopes for future administrative action, by moving current requirements for proof of lawful status from administrative rules into statute.

Until rules were changed in 2003 by the Pawlenty administration under expedited rulemaking, it was not necessary to show immigration status to receive a Minnesota driver’s license. Since that time, too many families are being forced to make impossible choices between driving without a license to provide for their families, or living in extreme hardship. This results in many unlicensed drivers on our roads, increasing safety risks and the number of uninsured motorists, harming everyone in our state.

In the scriptures of Romans 14:13 it says, “Let us stop passing judgment on one another. Instead, make up your mind not to put any stumbling block or obstacle in the way of a brother or sister.” This anti-immigrant REAL ID bill is just that, a stumbling block put in the way of the vulnerable, where we force them to drive without a license or live in destitution. We, with our legislators, have the power to loose a yoke from an already overburdened community. To place this obstacle in their way is simply immoral.

A broad and exceptionally diverse array of religious, business, law enforcement, labor and community organizations support the restoration of access to driver’s licenses to hard working immigrant families.  Restoring access to driver’s licenses is an important public safety measure and would increase the number of insured drivers on our roads. There is no organized opposition to this reform, and the Senate has passed a bill (twice) to restore this access.

Eight states are fully compliant with REAL ID but also allow access to driver’s licenses without regard to immigration status. This represents a rational path forward that solves the problem of REAL ID compliance without exacerbating the terror being experienced in our immigrant communities.

Because there is no valid policy or legal reason for the House position, it appears to be a cynical effort to pander to voters who would be motivated by hate and fear. ISAIAH appreciates the strong vote in support of Rep. Mariani’s amendment to remove the hurtful language, and will continue to advocate for a clean REAL ID bill in the Minnesota Senate.

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