A bill quickly advancing in the Virginia Legislature indicates the state may soon become the nation’s 14th to offer illegal immigrants driver’s licenses. Introduced last month at the request of an open borders coalition, the measure has survived various state senate committees and was approved by a finance and appropriations panel this month.
It directs the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) to provide driver’s licenses to applicants without a Social Security or taxpayer identification number as long as they submit a certified statement that their information is true.
Democrat legislators introduced the law after promising an influential group known as the Virginia Coalition for Immigrant Rights that they would “fight hard” for immigrant rights, according to a local news report. At a fiery press conference in mid-January, coalition members took the podium demanding “overdue legislation” be passed.
One of the bill’s sponsors, Senator Jennifer Boysko who represents Fairfax, joined the powwow and said: “This is an issue that is an economic justice issue, it allows people to be the best that they can be and we are going to be fighting hard throughout this session.” The immigrant rights coalition is also demanding that a law be passed to give illegal aliens discounted in-state tuition at Virginia public colleges and universities.
Seventeen states—Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Illinois, Kansas, Maryland, Minnesota, Nebraska, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Texas, Utah and Washington—give illegal aliens in-state tuition, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Two states—Oklahoma and Rhode Island—don’t have official laws but let the Board of Regents grant the perk.
Back in 2014, Virginia’s attorney general enacted a policy of giving in-state tuition to illegal immigrants protected by a controversial Obama amnesty program known as Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA). At the time more than 8,000 illegal immigrants qualified for the taxpayer benefit. The attorney general proclaimed that it was the right thing to do because the illegal immigrants are “Virginians” and the state “should extend them an opportunity for an affordable education.”
If Virginia passes the driver’s license measure, it will follow a growing national trend of rewarding illegal immigrants with official government documents. Just a few months ago New York became the 13th state to offer illegal immigrants driver’s licenses, even though local DMV clerks throughout the state expressed deep concern about their ability to authenticate the unfamiliar documents—written in foreign languages—acceptable under the new law to obtain a license.
One county clerk in the state’s eastern region said in a local news report that his office, which services a population of about 160,000, will not issue licenses to illegal aliens and instead will let the state deal with the applicants. Another DMV clerk in the state’s southern tier blasted lawmakers for leaving her and her colleagues to deal with the mess.
Besides New York, a dozen states and the District of Columbia have enacted laws to allow illegal immigrants to obtain driver’s licenses, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. They include California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Maryland, New Mexico, Nevada, Utah, Vermont and Washington. More than half of the states passed their measures in 2013.
In 2019 several states—including Florida, Kansas, Minnesota and North Carolina—introduced legislation to grant illegal aliens driver’s licenses, but those haven’t been resolved and it’s not clear if they’ll pass. The Trump Department of Justice (DOJ) has challenged New York’s measure, writing in a federal court filing that it conflicts with federal law.