Lawmakers in the Minnesota legislature approved of a bill which would allow illegal immigrants—or people who are in the country illegally—to obtain a legal driver’s license.
The bill came out of the state House where Democrats hold a firm majority, the Washington Examiner reports, with a final vote of 74 to 52. The vote mostly fell along party lines.
Democratic House Majority Leader Ryan Winkler said immigrants were an integral part of the state and deserved to be given the licenses.
“Immigrants, whether they are documented or undocumented, are Minnesotans. They are part of the fabric of our communities,” he said via the Washington Examiner. “It is time that we helped take away this shadow of not having a driver’s license.”
Democrats in the state have long argued that giving illegal immigrants access to driver’s licenses gives them the ability to contribute more to society, such as by enrolling in school and having access to work.
“It’s common sense,” said Democratic Rep. Samantha Vang. “This will allow people to simply open a bank account, to drive safely on the road to their jobs, to their school.”
Republicans in the legislature raised an issue with the bill and said it grants legal status to the illegal immigrants.
Republican Representative Steve Drazkowski said the effort is “one step closer to making Minnesota a sanctuary state,” Fox News reports.
Here’s more, via the Washington Examiner:
GOP state Sen. Bill Ingebrigtsen said the bill would “undermine our current values.”
“Minnesota shouldn’t be in the business of incentivizing illegal behavior, and by allowing illegal and undocumented immigrants access to driver’s licenses, that’s exactly what our state would be doing,” he said.
The bill is not expected to clear the Republican-controlled Minnesota Senate. Newly elected Gov. Tim Walz, a Democrat who previously served as a representative in the U.S. House, has not indicated whether he would sign the bill.
A similar bill granting the opportunity for illegal immigrants to obtain a driver’s license was previously passed in California. The Washington Examiner reports illegal immigrants make up 1 million of the state’s 26 million driver’s licenses:
More than 1 million illegal immigrants in California have obtained driver’s licenses since January 2015, when a new law kicked in, the state Department of Motor Vehicles said this week.
That amounts to about 4 percent of the state’s 26 million driver’s licenses.
California is one of 12 states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico that allow people living in the U.S. illegally to apply for identification cards and driver’s licenses.