Fifteen mayors and city managers from across Massachusetts recently announced their support for An Act relative to work and family mobility during and subsequent to the COVID-19 emergency (Senate Bill 2289) in a letter submitted to the Massachusetts Legislature’s Joint Committee on Transportation. The bill, which is currently awaiting a report from the Committee, would allow immigrants without status to qualify for a Massachusetts Standard Driver’s License as long as they have valid proof of identity, date of birth and Massachusetts residency.
The Act was reported on favorably by the Committee on Transportation in 2020 and was poised for passage last session. Reintroduced this session, the bill has now earned more than 100 cosponsors in the House and Senate, and the Driving Families Forward Coalition supporting the bill has grown to include more than 270 endorsing organizations, including community, health, faith, labor, business and law enforcement leaders. Mayors and managers from Amherst, Arlington, Boston, Brockton, Brookline, Cambridge (mayor and city manager), Chelsea, Malden, Medford, Newton, Randolph, Revere, Salem and Swampscott joined together in support of the bill.
In the letter the Massachusetts mayors and city managers noted that the proposal would greatly improve road safety and increase the ease with which law enforcement officers conduct their regular duties. “This bill would provide broad benefits to our municipalities. Our streets will be safer for everyone when all drivers have passed road tests, and vehicles are registered and insured,” the letter reads, in part.
“Indeed, many of our policy chiefs support the bill as a public safety tool and agree that it will enable law enforcement to better identify individuals at traffic stops or scenes of an accident,” said Boston Mayor Michelle Wu. “All Boston and Massachusetts adults deserve access to driver’s licenses regardless of immigration status. I support the Family Mobility Act because it will make all of us safer.”
“The Work and Family Mobility Act is a commonsense measure that will improve the safety of our streets and strengthen the ability of Massachusetts families and workers to access essential services, health care, education, and places of work,” said Salem Mayor Kim Driscoll. “Massachusetts cities and towns have consistently stepped forward to help all of our residents, and now we’re calling on the legislature to do the same. This measure is endorsed by both law enforcement leaders and advocates for our immigrant neighbors. Let’s make sure our Commonwealth is a place that works for and welcomes everyone by adopting this important legislation.”
“Providing access to driver’s licenses to immigrants makes all of our communities safer and more equitable,” said Newton Mayor Ruthanne Fuller.
“Swampscott is one of the most densely settled communities in the Commonwealth. As we look to the future, it’s clear we need a focus on pedestrian safety and complete streets to help balance the needs of all modes of transportation,” said Swampscott Town Administrator Sean Fitzgerald.
“Welcoming new residents, regardless of where they come from or the circumstances of their arrival, is important to the long-term economic and social well-being of Greater Boston and the entire Commonwealth,” said the Metropolitan Area Planning Council’s Deputy Executive Director of Public Affairs and Advocacy, Lizzi Weyant. MAPC led the creation of the municipal sign-on letter sent to the Joint Committee on Transportation.
“The Legislature has a real opportunity to meaningfully address some of the structural barriers facing our undocumented residents,” said Weyant. “This legislation gives us an opportunity to start to change the way that we treat and include vital members of our communities.”