Rev. Sara Lilja
Christmas Joy Threatened!
Christmas is a time of celebration of God with us. The festival reminds us of the many ways that God is with us, and the many ways God works in history. We rejoiced last year, God acted: legislation was signed into law providing an opportunity for all residents to get a driver’s license in New Jersey, regardless of their citizenship status. It was hailed as a public safety victory by many: finally, all drivers would be tested and insured, making our streets safer. Governor Murphy at the bill signing said, “Today is a simple recognition that our immigrant communities — each of you — are a vital part of our state and our economy.” Read more here.
New Jersey prides itself on being a champion for immigrants, yet proposed regulations from the Dept. of Motor Vehicles threaten to roll back our Christmas joy from last year and will put our immigrant neighbors at risk. The Motor Vehicle Commission (MVC) is proposing regulations that would require individuals who are ineligible for a SSN and do not have an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN) to provide a letter of ineligibility from the Social Security Administration (SSA). This would require that the person interact and share information with a federal government agency. A significant number of immigrants without status are likely to feel unsafe doing so; consequently, they will be deterred from applying for a license to drive safely in New Jersey.
These proposed regulations create burdensome, risky, and unnecessary barriers that will prevent thousands of eligible New Jerseyans from applying for a driver's license. To truly value the labor of New Jersey’s immigrant communities and to be fair to all, this administration must fix the proposed regulations. Allow immigrants who are ineligible for a SSN to sign an affidavit attesting to their SSN status. A similar practice has proven successful in CA and NY, which have provided clear, safe, and direct paths for immigrants to obtain driver's licenses.
Regardless of immigration status, all New Jersey residents should have a chance to drive safely on the roads. All drivers should be tested, insured and licensed. This simultaneously acknowledges the huge contribution immigrants make to our economy and will help keep our streets and roads safe. This was the intention of the law that was signed last Christmas - don’t spoil Christmas this year!
As the MVC board votes to finalize the regulations to implement the driver’s licenses law, their regulations threaten to undo this law. Contact the Governor today to express your concern over these unnecessary regulations. And, offer all of our NJ neighbors a blessing: God is with us, now and always!