Posted on April 10, 2022

Here’s Why Mayor Wu and Other Mayors Say Undocumented Immigrants Should Be Able to Get Driver’s Licenses

Marta Hill,, April 5, 2022

Earlier this year the Massachusetts House of Representatives passed a bill that would allow undocumented immigrants to obtain a state driver’s license. The legislation, called the “Act relative to work and family mobility,” was well received in the House, and passed with a 120-36 vote, which Pablo Ruiz, the political director of union 32BJ, said gives advocates hope for the future of the bill.


The bill still needs to be passed by the state Senate before it reaches Gov. Charlie Baker’s desk, but if approved, it would allow individuals who do not have proof they are in the country legally to obtain a license. The legislation only affects standard Massachusetts licenses, not Real IDs, which would keep the state in compliance with national rules.

The Driving Families Forward coalition, which is committed to passing the act, hosted an online event Tuesday that featured several local mayors and city leaders.

Boston Mayor Michelle Wu spoke first and expressed her support for the legislation.

“I’m here in my official capacity as mayor of Boston to give voice to the many, many residents who need urgently to have the mechanisms for transportation, for safety, for economic mobility that this next step represents,” she said. “I’m also here wearing my own identity coming from an immigrant family where I know what it feels like to see the systems that are there, built with programming and services and funding, feel so far away because of the many barriers that stand in the way.”

Wu called Boston a city of immigrants, with 29% of the population coming from an immigrant background. Wu said this legislation could help alleviate issues with access to some resources.

“Supporting our immigrant communities is supporting our city,” she said. {snip}

If passed, Massachusetts would join 16 other states and the District of Columbia that already have similar laws — including Connecticut, Delaware, Maryland, and Vermont.


Immigrants eligible for driver’s licenses would not be registered to vote as a result of applying, and licenses wouldn’t be available until July 1, 2023.

Lynn Mayor Jared Nicholson highlighted the flags that hang in his office representing the over 40 languages spoken in public schools as a measure of the diversity in Lynn and the wide community this bill would benefit.


For Salem Mayor Kim Driscoll there are three main reasons to support this bill: moral considerations, economic effects, and public safety.


Public safety was a consideration for several of the leaders, including Chelsea City Manager Thomas G. Ambrosino.