Driver’s licenses regardless of immigration status is good for Minnesotans, good for the economy

May 06, 2019

Last week, the Minnesota House passed expanded access to driver’s licenses regardless of immigration status as part of their omnibus transportation budget bill (House File 1555.)

This provision would allow Minnesotans to apply for driver’s licenses regardless of their immigration status, acknowledging the immigrants who call Minnesota their home and are working, learning, and living in our communities.

For a large number of Minnesotans, the daily activities we do to support our families – like getting to work safely, dropping children off at school, or buying groceries – require driving. But for about 95,000 Minnesotans, doing these basic activities without a driver’s license could result in potentially life-altering consequences, including being separated from their families or losing their livelihoods.

Minnesota is increasingly relying on all members of our communities to fill critical jobs. With a driver’s license, these community members are able to reliably get to their jobs, have more flexibility for scheduling, and can fill a broader range of job openings. Having a driver’s license can open a door to increased earnings, creating a boost in consumer spending that’s good for our local economies.

Last week’s House vote was an important step toward giving all Minnesotans – regardless of who they are or where they were born – a fair shot in today’s economy and allowing everyone to more fully and safely be a part of our economy and communities. This provision is not included in the Senate’s omnibus transportation bill, but we strongly urge policymakers to pass this provision in the final budget this year.

-Clark Goldenrod