New Jersey Bill to Allow Undocumented Immigrants the Right to Drive

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New legislation is being debated in New Jersey this week that would grant undocumented residents of the state the right to drive. The law, being supported by various immigrant rights groups and Perth Amboy state Assemblyman Joseph Vas would grant undocumented immigrants and others the right to obtain specialized driving cards that would let them drive legally in the state. The laws are expected to be passed as they have wide support throughout New Jersey.

The driving cards could not be used as legal identification and would only be granted to people who successfully passed a series of NJ MVC driving tests. Vas has stated that the idea would allow immigrants who work throughout the state the right to get to their jobs more efficiently, given the lack of current public alternatives. Several states around the country have attempted similar bills with varying degrees of success.

The issue of undocumented immigrant driving is a controversial one nationwide. The majority of Americans think that undocumented immigrants or others who cannot prove their legal right to be in the country should not be given the right to drive. Currently anyone found driving without a license or without legal identification can face serious problems, including having their vehicles taken away from them.

Some critics of the bill say that the identification cards would mark people as being undocumented and they would face further discrimination because of it. These critics also say that the upcoming federal bill pertaining to the "REAL ID" act would override any state laws, making it a waste of time and effort. Other critics are also contending that the law would give the wrong impression to future illegal immigrants, spurring even more illegal immigration into New Jersey.

Vas contends that the illegal immigration population is already fully entrenched in the state. He also has said that the bill would make New Jersey's roads and highways safer by having more insured and legal drivers. Proponents of the measure say that the bill would benefit those who currently suffer from the spate of automobile accidents involving drivers who leave the scene, underinsured or uninsured drivers, or drivers who refuse to give their information to others.

Currently, any driver facing a hit and run or who was involved in an accident with an undocumented or unlicensed driver faces a bureaucratic nightmare when attempting to file a claim with their own insurance company. Many of these people are left to pay the bills for themselves. Under the new bill, theoretically, there would be more drivers with insurance and legal proof of driving rights and that would decrease the costs associated with accidents involving undocumented drivers.

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