PennDOT supports licenses for undocumented immigrants

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(The Center Square) — The Shapiro administration said Monday it supports giving non-citizens driver’s licenses, following a trend across the Mid-Atlantic that posits the policy change as a safety measure.

“There are reports of over a dozen states that already allow non-citizens, including illegal immigrants, to obtain driver’s licenses,” Rep. Mike Cabell, R-Dallas, said. “Meanwhile, federal DHS policy stipulates that states could offer those with TPS (Temporary Protected Status) a Real ID.”

Eighteen states, including Maryland, Delaware, New Jersey and New Jersey already do so. A similar effort, House Bill 769, has been proposed and sits in the Transportation Committee, but the effort has the support of the executive.

“The issuance of driver’s license products to undocumented immigrants is something that the department supports, that I support, and the governor supports with safeguards necessary to make sure that folks that are issued those products are treated the same as folks that have a regular driver’s license,” PennDOT Secretary Mike Carroll said.

Rep. Seth Grove, R-York, asked how many driver’s licenses have been issued to immigrants under TPS over the last decade, and Carroll said PennDOT would follow up with him to get the data.

Beyond the issuances of non-citizen IDs, Carroll emphasized that Real ID issuances are rigorous, but may cause problems.

“I have the greatest level of faith in our driver’s license and motor vehicle folks,” Carroll said, to verify the “substantial documentation” and only get Real IDs to those who should have them.

Only 20% of Pennsylvania drivers have a Real ID, he noted.

“The issuance of a Real ID is not something that happens haphazardly in Pennsylvania,” Carroll said.

It could, however, be a burden.

“The application of Real ID is gonna be a real challenge for the traveling public,” Carroll said. “When TSA gets serious about making sure people have a Real ID or passport to get on a commercial flight, it’s gonna be a really challenging day, probably a year and a half from now. I really do get nervous.”

Speed cameras in construction zones have also been contentious, with some administrative issues, but PennDOT plans to expand their use.

“The work zone cameras … have been wildly successful,” Carroll said. “If you talk to anybody who works a construction project for PennDOT or for our contractors, they are eager to see the employment of work zone cameras in a more aggressive manner and I intend to do that.”

Carroll acknowledged it’s a “complicated conversation,” but thinks their use “will make a positive difference.”