House passes bill to issue licenses to undocumented immigrants
By WFSB Staff
HARTFORD, CT (WFSB) -
The state House of Representatives passed a bill that would allow undocumented immigrants to obtain legal Connecticut driver's licenses.
Lawmakers debated for more than seven hours on the bill and made several amendments before finally taking a vote.
The bill, which passed by a 74-55 vote Thursday morning, would allow undocumented residents of Connecticut to obtain a driver's license.
Supporters of the bill said it would make the road safer, as drivers without a valid license are three times more likely to cause a deadly crash.
"Folks go to work, they want to take care of their kids and have better things for their families," said Mayor of New Haven John DeStefano, who supports allowing undocumented immigrants to have a driver's license. "Not being able to drive a car diminishes their ability to do all those things."
Opponents had been arguing the new legislation could encourage people to enter the state illegally and wanted further studies done on the issue.
To deal with fraud, licenses given to undocumented citizens would say on the back that it is for driving only. But still some feel there's a bigger issue.
"We have millions of people in the country illegally that's where the problem stems from," said state Sen. Joe Markley, R-16.
Mercedes Ortiz recently became a United States citizen and is now trying to get a driver's license.
"I got all my papers," she said. "I'm all ready."
Ortiz said she knows lots of people, who are not here legally, but still drive. She said many of them have families and want to take of them, but need a license to do that.
"Spanish people working good and hard, keeping this country up," Ortiz said.
The bill next heads to the state Senate for vote. If the bill is adopted, it would go into law in 2015.