RICHMOND, Va. -- Governor Northam signed legislation allowing undocumented immigrants to be issued driver privilege cards by the Department of Motor Vehicles, starting January 1, 2021.
"We had a meeting about this bill, here in Richmond, and a group of advocates came. One of them could not get into the Patrick Henry building because they did not have an ID. This is something that a lot of us take for granted. So, we must treat everyone equally and make sure that they are welcomed," Northam said.
According to the Virginia Legislative Information System applicants, for new driver privilege cards must fulfill the following requirements:
"(i) has reported income from Virginia sources or been claimed as a dependent on an individual tax return filed with the Commonwealth in the preceding 12 months and (ii) is not in violation of the insurance requirements for the registration of an uninsured motor vehicle. The bill provides that driver privilege cards shall confer the same privileges and shall be subject to the same provisions as driver's licenses and permits; however, driver privilege cards shall not (a) confer voting privileges, (b) permit an individual to waive any part of the driver examination, or (c) have their issuance be contingent upon the applicant's ability to produce proof of legal presence in the United States."
Delegate Kathy Tran and Senator Scott Surovell, the two legislators who carried the bills in the General Assembly this year, and their respective co-patrons, Delegate Elizabeth Guzman and Senate Jennifer Boysko virtually participated in the event as well as parents, families, partner organizations, and stakeholder groups, who advocated for this legislation.
Kathy Tran, who currently serves in the Virginia House of Delegates, said that the ability to drive will change the lives of immigrants.
"Today is truly a historic day and is culminating of years of advocacy and hard work by Virginia's immigrant community and allies... I have heard from immigrants across the Commonwealth that the simple ability to drive, has fundamentally affected their lives. From the ability to take their kids to school, go to the grocery store, see a doctor, and work… When the federal government has truly turned its back on immigrants and refugees, Virginia, today, joins a very smaller number of states to expand access to driving for immigrants. We are showing that state leadership matters when it comes to recognizing and celebrating the economic, cultural, and social contributions of immigrants."
For more information on the new legislation, visit https://lis.virginia.gov/cgi-bin/legp604.exe?201+sum+HB1211 .