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NH House passes bill to allow drivers’ licenses for illegal immigrants

Cars on a highway. (MaxPixel/Released)
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The New Hampshire House on Wednesday passed a bill that would enable illegal immigrants brought to the state as children to get a New Hampshire driver’s license without a Social Security number.

The vote on HB 397 was 204-137, mostly along party lines, with five Democrats opposed.

A Republican-sponsored bill that would require the state to post citizenship information on a drivers’ license or state-issued ID failed, 121-220, with 13 Republicans opposed and one Democrat in favor.

“We are being asked to provide drivers licenses to illegal aliens — a group of people who have broken federal laws by either entering the country illegally or staying past their visas,” said Rep. Sherm Packard, R-Londonderry.

“This same group of people have admittedly broken New Hampshire law every day by driving without a license and have admitted to doing so for years. This has nothing whatsoever to do with the safety of our roads. Documents sold on a street corner in Mexico could be used to obtain a New Hampshire driver’s license. We should not be rewarding people who break our laws.”

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Rep. Casey Conley, D-Dover, pointed out that 10 states and the District of Columbia already have laws like the one being suggested, which could affect an estimated 15,000 so-called “Dreamers” in New Hampshire.

“A New Hampshire drivers’ license proves only who someone is, where they live and that they are permitted to drive in our state,” he said.

“This bill will improve safety, reduce the number of uninsured motorists, and provide the same privacy protections that all other New Hampshire motorists enjoy. Undocumented people who live in our state may have come here at a young age through no fault of their own.”

House Minority Leader Richard Hinch, R-Merrimack, said the bill could have serious consequences if it becomes law.

“With New Hampshire’s current laws, allowing illegal immigrants to receive a valid Drivers’ License could make it easier for them to participate in several other things, like vote in our elections,” he said.

“If this bill becomes law, we may allow thousands of undocumented immigrants to take advantage of other rights and services that should be exclusive to lawful citizens.”

A bill to allow residents who identify as neither male nor female to opt for an X as gender identification on the drivers’ license passed in a voice vote.

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“This bill allows non-binary residents an equal measure of dignity,” said Rep. Cecilia Rich, D-Somersworth. “This bill is continued support of the transgender protections signed into law last year.”

The bills will still have to clear the Senate and be signed by Gov. Chris Sununu to become law.

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© 2019 The New Hampshire Union Leader (Manchester, N.H.)

Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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