Celebrating 40 Years:
THE HISPANIC BAR ASSOCIATION OF NEW JERSEY COMMENDS THE STATE FOR PASSING HISTORIC LEGISLATION THAT EXPANDS ACCESS TO DRIVER’S LICENSES FOR NEW JERSEY RESIDENTS REGARDLESS OF THEIR IMMIGRATION STATUS
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: December 20, 2019
The Hispanic Bar Association of New Jersey (“HBA-NJ”) commends the New Jersey Assembly and Senate for passing bill A4743 on Monday, December 16, 2019, and Governor Philip D. Murphy for signing the bill into law on Thursday, December 19, 2019.
This legislation represents a significant advancement of Latinx rights in New Jersey. The legislation creates two categories of driver’s licenses. The first category allows New Jersey residents who do not qualify for a REAL ID Act license—either because they are unable or unwilling to prove lawful presence in the U.S.—to receive a standard license. The second category of licenses may be used for federal purposes (REAL ID Act compliant) and is available to those who prove lawful presence in the U.S.1
In discussing the historic impact that this legislation will have during a press conference on the day the bill was signed, Governor Murphy stated, “Today is a simple recognition that our immigrant communities and each of you are a vital part of our State and of our economy. . . . Our roads will be safer, and our ranks of uninsured drivers will be lower, and that’s good for all of us.” In addressing concerns that the legislation could result in discriminatory use of the information, the Governor noted, “We are going to protect you and your personal information and that of any other resident who applies for a standard driver’s license. Insurance companies won’t be allowed to hike your premiums because you don’t have a REAL ID [license] and employers or landlords or even the government won’t be allowed to discriminate against you. We honor and welcome our immigrant brothers and sisters in our immigrant communities – we are, after all, a nation of immigrants.”
Following Governor Murphy’s speech, Assemblywoman Annette Quijano, the primary sponsor of A4743, discussed the time, dedication and effort that went into passing the legislation, as well as the positive impact the bill will have on various communities. Assemblywoman Quijano explained, “along the way, we learned that other communities faced obstacles to secure their driver’s licenses too. Communities like senior citizens, the homeless, LGBTQIA, and survivors of domestic violence will also benefit from better and more inclusive access to driver’s licenses. While faced with stiff opposition [to the proposed legislation] at times, [and] temporary defeat, we stood steadfast and today we celebrate.”
Senators Nellie Pou and Teresa Ruiz also participated in the press conference, noting the importance of this legislation to the Latinx community and commending all of the legislators, advocacy groups, and individuals who worked tirelessly to push for the passage of the legislation. In explaining the need for legislators to use their voice and power to make a difference, Senator Teresa Ruiz stated, “We truly have the power to write policy that engages every community and creates equity, and fairness and inclusion and, ultimately, safety for women who want to raise their daughters in a better world.”
By passing this legislation, New Jersey becomes the 15th State (plus DC) to expand access to driver’s licenses regardless of immigration status. The new legislation will become effective by January 1, 2021. Notably, it includes certain safety measures to ensure its proper implementation. For example, the chief administrator of the Motor Vehicle Commission must implement a two-year public awareness campaign to educate the public about the requirements and availability of a standard license versus a REAL ID license. An eleven-member advisory board will oversee the Motor Vehicle Commission’s implementation of the law. Finally, within 12 months of the law’s implementation, the advisory board will issue a report to the Governor’s office and State Legislature with its findings and recommendations to address any issues or concerns with the legislation.
In reiterating the HBA-NJ’s support for the legislation, its President, Melinda Colón Cox stated, “The HBA-NJ applauds the legislature for passing this historic and progressive legislation. New Jersey has joined the ranks of a growing number of states that grant driver’s licenses to undocumented immigrants, a population that cannot and will not be ignored any longer. This law promotes mobility for undocumented New Jerseyans and allows them to become productive members of society, while enhancing our economy, making our roads safer, and empowering our Latinx community. By passing this law, New Jersey has sent a powerful message that immigrants are an integral part of our community and deserve equal access to fair and equitable treatment under the law. Si se pudo!”
1 For more information regarding the bills and REAL ID Act, please review the HBA-NJ’s June 6, 2019 Press Release wherein the HBA-NJ expressed its support of the proposed legislation, available at https://www.njhba.org/page-647227/7661984.
About The Hispanic Bar Association of New Jersey
Founded in 1980, the HBA-NJ is a 501(c)(6) nonprofit association that is comprised of attorneys, judges, law professors, law students, and other professionals who share a common interest in addressing the issues affecting Hispanics within the legal community.
The purpose of the Association is to serve the public interest: (i) by cultivating the art and science of jurisprudence, (ii) by advancing the standing of the legal profession, and (iii) by preserving high standards of integrity, honor, and professional courtesy among Hispanic lawyers.
Hispanic Bar Association of New Jersey
P.O. Box 25562, Newark, NJ 07101