Home > Press Release > FL Lawmakers Announce Bill to Expand Driver’s Licenses to all Immigrants Regardless of Immigration Status

FL Lawmakers Announce Bill to Expand Driver’s Licenses to all Immigrants Regardless of Immigration Status

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Monday, March 18, 2019

Contact: Melissa Taveras, melissa@floridaimmigrant.org, 786.663.6690 or 786.956.0352
Thomas Kennedy, thomas@floridaimmigrant.org, 786.346.0819

Drive Safe Sunshine State

Senator Jose Javier Rodriguez and Representative Dottie Joseph announce their support for critical legislation which would make Florida’s roadways safer

Community leaders and immigrant advocates from across the state traveled hundreds of miles to Tallahassee to support SB 1358/HB 969, providing driver’s license access for all Floridians

Press conference video: https://www.facebook.com/FloridaImmigrantCoalition/videos/29425327124300
Link to images: https://drive.google.com/open?id=1uc-xM7JpcG7KJ-g45_DSUsbVbkLOMded

TALLAHASSEE, FL — Two Florida elected officials have proposed legislation to make Florida’s roads safer, increase state revenue and cementing trust in law enforcement while protecting vulnerable communities. Senator Jose Javier Rodriguez and House Representative Dottie Joseph, along with community leaders and immigrant advocates will come together to launch the Drive Together Sunshine State effort in support of SB 1358/HB 969, legislation which would expand driver’s license privileges to all immigrants living in the state of Florida, regardless of status. Close to a million Floridians currently don’t have access to a driver’s license due to their immigration status, impacting the public safety and economic prosperity in Florida, as well as leading to the state having the third highest insurance rate in the nation. With the passage of this legislation, Floridians would benefit from lower insurance premiums for all drivers and improved public safety on roadways. In just one year, the state could potentially see an increase in revenues to more than $4 million dollars if 75% of Floridians currently denied licenses due to their immigration status were able to receive a driver’s license.

Immigrants have a tremendous impact on Florida’s economy, with those denied licenses because of their immigration status contributing $573 million to Florida’s tax base. However, since they don’t have access to driving privileges, they face significant restrictions when attempting to access jobs. They face long commutes, may be afraid to visit the doctor or take their children to school and live in constant fear of engaging a police officer and facing deportation.

The following is a statement from Thomas Kennedy, Political Director for the Florida Immigrant Coalition:

“The time is right for our state to make this change. In a time when communities are fearful about the hostile, anti-immigrant climate being created by the federal government, it is more important than ever to ensure our state supports the immigrant communities that make Florida vibrant by expanding driver’s licenses to all Floridians, regardless of immigration status. Allowing all immigrants to access driver’s licenses will not only empower communities that need our support, it will make our roads safer, bring immigrants out of the shadows and into the light while saving money for all Floridians.”

The following is a statement from Senator Jose Javier Rodriguez:

“SB 1358 is about public safety. Our roadways are less safe when we decide who can and can’t get a license and insurance based on immigration status. Everyone who is driving should have to pass a drivers test and be insured. States that have removed discrimination in their driver’s license laws have seen drops in both numbers of uninsured drivers and auto fatalities.”

The following is a statement from Nery L., Miami-Dade Organizer with the Florida Immigrant Youth Network (FLIYN):

“I have good fortune because I’m a DREAMer; as a DACA recipient, I have the privilege of driving to school and work without fear of being criminalized. That’s not the case for many of my family, friends and immigrant community, who run a risk of being criminalized everytime they drive to work or while taking their kids to school. I remember my parents sacrificing their health to drive without a license to get to work and support me and my three siblings. It was always a blessing to see them come home after working over 12 hours; always a relief when my mom would make it back home after driving my little brother to his autistic treatment appointments, knowing that everyday they risked their lives to drive in order to bring food to the table and provide us with a home. Florida elected officials, this is your time to protect the immigrant community and help protect the public safety of our state.

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We Are Florida is a statewide coalition of community advocates, religious leaders, service providers, unions and nonprofits dedicated to defending the rights of immigrant families across Florida