On Wednesday afternoon, an audience of 500 people gathered at the Minnesota State Capitol rotunda to hear Representative Karen Clark, Senator Patricia Torres Ray, Senator Melisa Franzen, Senator Sandra Pappas, Reverend Paul Erickson, Sister Margaret McGuirk, Reverend Deacon Carl Valdez, and members of the Minnesota immigrant community speak about the need to pass HF 348, or what is more commonly known as the "Driver's License Bill". The bill would give undocumented immigrants access to apply for a Minnesota driver's license, making the roads a safer place for everyone and lowering the amount of detentions and deportations that have steadily increased in Minnesota when administrative changes barred undocumented immigrants from applying for a driver's license in 2001.
The Reverend Paul Erickson, the Assistant to the Bishop Rogness spoke at the rally. "The faith community sees the need to pass the driver's license bill as a moral dilemma. Failure to pass the bill will cause irreparable damage to families, as undocumented parents will continue to get arrested for driving their children to school without a driver's license and consequentially get deported. Our faith coalition has shown that this is not a partisan issue -- it is a larger issue about maintaining the identity of this country as one where we treat immigrants with welcoming compassion. We are urging Speaker Thiessen to call HF 348 to a vote, and Governor Mark Dayton to fully support this piece of legislation. These would be moral choices, as we should all try to echo a similar message for the immigrant community of compassion, acceptance, and support. We are on their side because we are on the sides of all parents, of children, and of families."
Mesa Latina, a non-profit that organizes the Latino population in the Twin Cities coordinated the rally. Jovita Morales, one of the leaders noted, "Our friends, family members and neighbors who have been torn apart by America's broken immigration system can no longer afford to wait. We need to come together as one community and take action to ensure America is equipped with a 21st century immigration system that protects families, workers, and the health of our economy for decades to come."
Partnering with community leaders, business leaders, labor unions, faith allies, and elected officials, the movement is growing in strength and Minnesota could become the 13th state in the country to pass similar legislation. If undocumented immigrants are able to obtain a license, they would be able to purchase car insurance, which could lead to an estimated 35,000 newly insured drivers in Minnesota. The number of incarcerations for driving without a license would also go down and reduce the jail, police, and judicial resources needed to enforce these offenses.