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Guest Opinion: A closer look at bill to offer driver's licenses to undocumented immigrants

House DFL members recently brought forward a bill (H.F. 1500) that would create a special non-compliant driver's licenses and state ID card for undocumented immigrants.

After a lengthy debate, the bill moved out of the House to the Senate on a 74-52 vote. I voted "no" and here are just some reasons why:

Last session, we aligned Minnesota's DMV regulations with the federal Real ID standards, which now allows Minnesota to issue federally compliant Real ID driver's licenses and ID cards. Wording in H.F. 1500 includes:

"A person is not required to demonstrate United States citizenship or lawful presence in the United States in order to obtain a noncompliant driver's license or identification card."

Current Minnesota law specifically forbids issuing drivers licenses and ID cards to undocumented immigrants. I do not agree with weakening existing state law regarding disclosure of one's legal status in the United States.

H.F. 1500 also contains special data sharing restrictions on individuals that are issued a non-complaint license or ID card:

"Subd. 11. Certain data on noncompliant license or identification card; department and agents. (a) The commissioner must not share or disseminate outside of the division of the department administering driver licensing any data on individuals indicating or otherwise having the effect of identifying that the individual applied for, was denied, or was issued a noncompliant driver's license or identification card under section 171.06, subdivision 7.

"(d) Notwithstanding any law to the contrary, this subdivision prohibits the commissioner and a driver's license agent from sharing or disseminating the data described in paragraphs. (a) to (c) with any entity otherwise authorized to obtain data under subdivision 7, any political subdivision, any state agency as defined in section 171.06, subdivision 7, or any federal entity."

This provision complicates both state and federal law enforcement's ability to deal with individuals possessing a non-complaint license or ID card. As a U.S. citizen and Minnesota resident, you and I do not enjoy the same data-sharing protections as would an individual in possession of a non-compliant Minnesota driver's license or ID card.

Some say H.F. 1500 will improve public safety by allowing the undocumented to gain a driver's license and buy auto insurance. I think it's wishful thinking that those that have violated our immigration laws and are prohibited by federal law from being employed in the U.S. will automatically purchase auto insurance.

If this bill should reach Gov. Tim Walz's desk, it would turn Minnesota into a full-blown sanctuary state. The good news is, despite its passage in the House, there is no Senate companion bill. We already have enough on our plate with only four working weeks left in this session before we must get our next two-year state budget in place and adjourn.

Enough of these unnecessary distractions.

Lueck, R-Aitkin, represents District 10B in the Minnesota House of Representatives

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