Dear Committee Members:
Peace be with you. I write today on behalf of the Minnesota Catholic Conference, the public policy voice of the Catholic Church in Minnesota, in support of H.F. 1500, which will provide a pathway for our undocumented brothers and sisters to obtain driver’s licenses.
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 driver’s licenses 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 driver’s licenses will help immigrants meet their daily obligations. In many parts of 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.
Providing driver’s licenses to immigrants also serves the common good – 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. It is sad to hear of stories where immigrants abandon their cars at an accident or in another situation where they must flee for fear of being deported.
Nor does this legislation “reward” those who have broken the law. It is a concrete measure of solidarity that looks beyond the myriad reasons why someone is here illegally with their family and seeks to protect their well-being in the reality of their situation and in light of actual prospects for immigration reform and enforcement.
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.
The Most Rev. Andrew H. Cozzens
Auxiliary Bishop of St. Paul & Minneapolis