Gov. Walz signs bill expanding access to driver’s licenses regardless of immigration status

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(ABC 6 News) – Gov. Tim Walz on Tuesday morning signed a bill that will provide access to driver’s licenses for everyone, regardless of their immigration status.

The push to make this happen has been in the works for 20 years, starting when the state started to require Minnesotans to show proof of residency to get a driver’s license following the 9/11 attacks.

The Minnesota House passed the legislation in late January by a 69-60 vote and the Minnesota Senate voted 34-31 to pass the bill in late February.

This bill is expected to impact about 81,000 undocumented immigrants in Minnesota — allowing them to get a driver’s license or state identification card without showing proof of residence.

“Ensuring drivers in our state are licensed and carry insurance makes the roads safer for all Minnesotans,” said Governor Walz. “As a longtime supporter of this bill, I am proud to finally sign it into law, making our roads safer and moving us toward our goal of making Minnesota the best state to raise a family for everyone.”

“Just outside this chamber, there are hundreds of immigrants whose lives will be completely transformed by this bill,” said Minnesota State Sen. Zaynab Mohamed (DFL-Minneapolis).

Mohamed, one of the bill’s authors, says it passed with support from police across the state who say it will help make roads safer.

She also says it will help break down barriers to getting a job or housing, especially in Greater Minnesota.

Those opposed are concerned it could create room for voter fraud and give incentives for immigrants without legal status to come to Minnesota and abuse state programs.

“There are holes in this bill,” Senate Minority Leader Mark Johnson said. “We’re not calling groups any names; what we’re saying is we need to protect Minnesotans. It doesn’t matter what your race, your color, your creed.”