May 16, 2014
Good morning. My name is Jason Adkins and I am executive director of the Minnesota Catholic Conference, the public policy voice of the Catholic Church in Minnesota. MCC wishes to express its strong support for HF 348, the Driver’s Licenses for All bill.
Our broken immigration system needs to be fixed. But in the absence of immigration reform at the federal level, it is important that we as a State take concrete steps to improve the lives of aspiring citizens in our community.
A provisional driver’s license will make it easier for undocumented persons to do the things that most of us take for granted, such as going to work, buying groceries, and attending church. People live in fear that they will face jail, detainment, or even deportation if they are caught driving without a license. They wonder if every trip they make to work to support their families will be the last time they see their children.
Beyond improving the lives of undocumented persons, the Minnesota Catholic Conference believes this policy enhances the common good of all Minnesotans. Creating provisional driver’s licenses can improve public safety by ensuring all drivers have basic skills, and foster opportunities for economic development by increasing the mobility of workers.
I sometimes hear that policies such as these “reward” lawbreakers and do so at the expense of “deserving” citizens. Undoubtedly, citizenship carries with it both rights and responsibilities. But a provisional driver’s license is hardly a “reward” for lawbreaking. Instead, it is a prudent way of acknowledging that we have many aspiring citizens in our midst who have braved incredible hardship to come here and escape, in many cases, severe poverty. They are hardworking people with families, who pay taxes, and have built a life in our communities. And they will very likely be staying here, no matter what happens in Washington.
So, what are we going to do help them and their families? Again, we don’t know when or how this broken system will be fixed. This bill allows Minnesota the opportunity to follow the biblical mandate and show hospitality to the stranger in our midst. Last year’s MN DREAM Act was one such step of which we can be justly proud. This is another. Please pass this bill.