Give Illegal Immigrants Driver’s Licenses To Mitigate Coronavirus Spread, Says Driving Families Forward Panelist

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Give illegal immigrants driver’s licenses or else they will spread coronavirus.

That was the message from one panelist during a virtual event put together by Driving Families Forward via a Zoom call on Monday night.

The coalition supports legislation pending on Beacon Hill that would allow foreigners in the country illegally to obtain driver’s licenses in Massachusetts  (S.2641 and H.3012, both titled “An Act Relative To Work and Family Mobility”).

The event featured an array of voices, offering various perspectives on why the state should let illegal immigrants obtain driver’s licenses.

One was Dr. Marty Nathan of Baystate Brightwood Health Center, of Springfield, who argued that without driver’s licenses, illegal aliens risk spreading coronavirus 

“Already, due to poverty wages, they are more apt to live in crowded apartments, and those two factors feed the high rate of spread of COVID in immigrant communities, but without driver’s licenses and with inadequate public transport, these essential immigrant workers are forced to walk which is usually impossible due to distance or to ride to work in packed cars or vans provided by employers or hitched by a friend,” Dr. Nathan said. “In those vehicles where social spacing is absolutely impossible, they may be exposed to and expose others to the virus just trying to get to work.

“Lack of car transportation has become even more complicated and dangerous,” she added. “Barrier to access to food and health care with a pandemic. COVID testing is a key service to prevent the spread of the epidemic, but unfortunately, it’s available almost exclusively at drive-thru facilities. If you can’t drive and don’t have someone who can, it’s very hard to get tested. So how can people find out if they have the disease and how can contact tracing be implemented?”

The Commonwealth of Massachusetts discourages carpooling amid the coronavirus pandemic.

This is how says Bay Staters should approach carpooling:


Limit number of occupants in vehicle whenever possible. All occupants should wear face covering at all times while in the vehicle. Open vehicle windows whenever possible. Keep disinfectant wipes in vehicle to clean touchpoints after passenger(s) exits the vehicle (e.g., door handles, instrument panel, door locks, window controls).


Additionally, during the Zoom event, another panelist, Jackie Vimo, policy analyst for the National Immigration Law Center, said that the term “undocumented” when referring to people who are not here lawfully is inaccurate.

Vimo supports driver’s licenses for those who reside in the country illegally — referred to as “undocumented immigrants” by some members of the panel — but explained why the term is not the best.

“The reality is that the word undocumented is actually a misnomer,” she said. “Most people are not actually undocumented. Most of our friends and family who are undocumented can tell you themselves that they have all kinds of documentation passports, school IDs, all kinds of different documents. They just don’t happen to have state-issued driver’s licenses in Massachusetts.”