New Jersey’s state legislators have finally introduced legislation that will allow the state to remain compliant with the federal REAL ID standards while also issuing driver’s licenses to undocumented immigrants residing in New Jersey.
The proposed legislation creates two separate license types: (1) a Real ID compliant driver’s license that passes minimum requirements for use with the federal government; and (2) a “standard driver’s license” to be issued to New Jersey residents who satisfy all other requirements for a driver’s license but are unable to establish lawful residence in the United States. New Jersey estimates that over 500,000 undocumented immigrants residing in the state will qualify for the “standard driver’s license.”
The legislation requires:
- Applicants for the “standard driver’s license” must submit to New Jersey’s Motor Vehicle Commission (the “MVC”) proof of identity, date of birth, and residency in New Jersey.
- The MVC must adopt regulations to establish the design of the driver’s license, which includes the statement “Federal Limits Apply” on the front of the driver’s license in the smallest font available and the following statement on the back of the license: “This card is not acceptable for official federal purposes. This license is issued only as a license to drive a motor vehicle. It does not establish eligibility for employment, voter registration, or public benefits.”
- The MVC may not disclose any personal information to any federal, state, or local agency, without probable cause or a valid warrant.
- New Jersey automobile insurers may not assign a driver issued a “standard driver’s license” to a separate insurance rating tier, regardless of the type of license issued.
Moreover, the legislation specifically prevents the “standard driver’s license” from use as a basis for an investigation, arrest, citation, detention, as evidence of citizenship and immigration status, or discrimination towards holders of the “standard driver’s license.”
Should the legislation pass the New Jersey Senate and General Assembly, Governor Phil Murphy is expected to sign it into law, making New Jersey the 13th state to grant undocumented immigrants driver’s licenses. The other states are New Mexico, Maryland, Nevada, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Washington, Utah, and Vermont.
Stay tuned to the Norris McLaughlin Immigration Blog for updates on the progress of the legislation. To learn more about this or any other immigration matter, please feel free to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.