By: Diane Bernard, Public News Service
Immigrants’ rights groups are hailing the move, which they say would make life easier for residents without legal status. Nayeli Montes is an undocumented immigrant from Mexico living in Petersburg who suffered life-altering consequences of not having a license.
During a pregnancy a few years ago, Montes says she was in severe pain and needed to get to a hospital fast. She finally found a friend who could drive her – but it was too late.
“By the time she takes me to the hospital, it was already past, like, two hours and a half,” says Montes. “By the time the doctor saw me, the doctors can do nothing for me, and I lost the baby.”
In a public statement in response to the legislation, Virginia Republican Party spokesperson John March said, “The United States needs to work on fixing the crisis at the southern border before we can start granting rights to non-citizens.”
But Virginia Democrats say driver’s licenses would make life less complicated for immigrant families, who also pay taxes, attend public schools and worship alongside other Virginians.
Jace Hatcher with the Virginia Interfaith Center for Public Policy points out that roads are safer when everyone driving is certified to do so. And studies have shown that letting undocumented immigrants drive legally also helps the economy.
“Allowing driver’s licenses regardless of immigration status may reduce insurance premiums for all drivers,” says Hatcher. “States may also have a modest revenue increase from growth in sales tax, licensing fees, vehicle registration fees. And newly licensed workers could fill job openings far from public transportation.”
Democratic Governor Ralph Northam supports the measure and is expected to sign it into law, which would go into effect on January 1, 2021. If so, Virginia would be following in the footsteps of 14 other states, including New York and New Jersey.
The Southern Maryland Chronicle is a local, small business entrusted to provide factual, unbiased reporting to the Southern Maryland Community. While we look to local businesses for advertising, we hope to keep that cost as low as possible in order to attract even the smallest of local businesses and help them get out to the public. We must also be able to pay employees(part-time and full-time), along with equipment, and website related things. We never want to make the Chronicle a “pay-wall” style news site.
To that end, we are looking to the community to offer donations. Whether it’s a one-time donation or you set up a reoccurring monthly donation. It is all appreciated. All donations at this time will be going to furthering the Chronicle through hiring individuals that have the same goals of providing fair, and unbiased news to the community. For now, donations will be going to a business PayPal account I have set-up for the Southern Maryland Chronicle, KDC Designs. All business transactions currently occur within this PayPal account. If you have any questions regarding this you can email me at [email protected]
Thank you for all of your support and I hope to continue bringing Southern Maryland the best news possible for a very long time. — David M. Higgins II