Bishop Quinn testifies in support of bill to provide undocumented immigrants opportunity to become licensed drivers

Testimony of Bishop John M. Quinn

Bishop of Diocese of Winona-Rochester
HF 1163 (Winkler)
House Transportation Committee
March 9, 2021

Chair Hornstein and Members of the Committee:

Good afternoon, my name is John Quinn, Bishop of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Winona-Rochester, and I have joined the meeting today to speak on behalf of the Minnesota Catholic Conference in support of House File 1163.

Opening our license system to immigrants will allow Minnesota to take action and address one component of our broken immigration system.  Our immigrant brothers and sisters need reforms to ensure that they are not confined to the shadows and margins of our society.  Absent federal comprehensive immigration reform, offering driving credentials is one small measure the State of Minnesota can employ that will make our roads safer and our communities more welcoming to the immigrants who already make important contributions to our economic, cultural, and social life.

Access to driving credentials will help immigrants meet their daily obligations. In many parts of Southern Minnesota, there is no public transportation, and undocumented persons have no ability to get to work, church, health services, or school, other than by driving illegally.  Every day, they live in fear that getting stopped could mean permanent separation from their children, spouse, or parents.

Allowing undocumented persons to obtain provisional drivers licenses serves the common good in several ways.  Most importantly, public safety is promoted by having more licensed drivers on the road, who, studies have shown, are less likely to be involved in fatal accidents and also are more likely to be insured. It is surely in the best interests of our state to have people who are living among us and driving on our roads be able to do so safely and legally.

Undoubtedly, immigration policy is complicated.  As we seek to uphold the dignity of every human person created in the image and likeness of God, we must not ignore the common good, particularly the reality that with rights and privileges come responsibilities.

Thank you for your consideration and for your service to the people of Minnesota.