Hundreds Rally Calling For Access To Driver’s Licenses For All Residents In New Jersey

As the lame-duck session beings in Trenton, hundreds rallied outside the Trenton Statehouse to call for prioritization of legislation to expand access to driver’s licenses. Rally goers from across the state were joined by several members of the legislature. In New Jersey, more than 700,000 residents lack access to a state-issued driver’s license. Many lack access due to immigration status however other groups also face barriers in accessing a driver’s licenses including low-income individuals, formerly incarcerated, homeless individuals, some veterans, and survivors of domestic violence.

Those directly impacted who spoke at the rally included a domestic violence advocate, a formerly incarcerated and health access advocate, and an immigrant mother.

Assemblywoman Sandra Cunningham, Assemblyman Gary Schaer, Senator Teresa Ruiz, and Senator Nellli Pou spoke in support of expanding access to driver’s licenses immediately.

Senator Sandra B. Cunninghan said,

“I support this very crucial legislation to expand access to a simple driver’s license for more New Jersey residents. This is an issue not just for immigrants but for Black and Brown communities as well, who face increased barriers in getting a driver’s license. Our communities are over-policed and face incarceration at higher rates, leading to more individuals who lose their important documentation when they are incarcerated. A more accessible driver’s license system, which allows more documents to be used to get a driver’s license, is common-sense, including county jail-issued ID cards. With improved access to a driver’s license, more New Jersey families can have stability and thrive.”

Reverand Heyward Wiggins, Pastor of Camden Bible Tabernacle Church & Faith in New Jersey Board President said,

“ Our siblings are returning home to face an uphill battle to move forward largely dependent upon a license. We’ve seen it done across this country, but here we are years after this fight began, still waiting. In New Jersey, we have the largest racial disparity of incarceration for African Americans, 12 times higher than the white population even though we know crimes are committed at similar rates. It is an unjust system we are fighting every day! They often don’t have it and can’t obtain one because the DMV doesn’t accept County-Issued Jail ID cards or Department of Corrections ID. That means no transportation to find employment that will hire them, no job, no access to help, and no caring for their children.”

Nancy Vega, member Make the Road New Jersey said,

“As a mother of three from Elizabeth, NJ I know how hard life is when you can’t have a driver’s license. I need to drive my kids to school and to the doctor and their soccer games. No one should have to fear deportation just for taking your kid to school. We have been fighting for years, and the time is now – we can’t wait any longer. The New Jersey state legislature must act now to pass legislation that will expand access to drivers licenses so that New Jersey can become the 14th state to enact this commonsense policy that will help families like mine.”

Jamal Brown, Camden Health Coalition Member said,

“For most people, renewing your ID card is simple. You take your most important documents and head to the motor vehicles office. However, for people like me, with complex situations, who have faced incarceration and homelessness, these important documents often are not within reach. This inhibits access to health and social services.”

Cisily Brown, Camden Health Coalition Member said,

“It is important for me to have a driver’s license because today I know that it is truly a privilege to have a driver’s license. Freedom has no limits when a licensed driver can feel free to travel to and fro. With a driver’s license, I could purchase a car, open a bank account, cash checks. Simply be a part of a productive society.”

Rabbi Marc Katz, Temple Ner Tamid said,

“People of faith must demand dignity and agency for all. In our state, the ability to drive gives us access to the most basic of needs like food, medical care, and education. Thus, we must call on our leaders to provide avenues to these basic human rights through passing universal drivers licenses for all residents.”

Adriana Gonzalez, DACA-Recipient, member of LALDEF said,

“I came here when I was 2 -years old with my parents seeking a better life and protection from the conditions in Mexico. With DACA, opportunities have opened up for me that I could never have imagined before in my education and career. Next week, the Supreme Court begins to hear arguments for and against DACA. This means I could lose my DACA status in as little as a few months and along with it everything I gained, including my access to a simple driver’s license which allows me to do so much.”

Tom Walsh, President of RWDSU Local 262 said,

“Immigrants are an economic powerhouse in New Jersey and immigrant workers including DACA recipients, TPS holders depend on strong policies that protect workers and their families. In New Jersey, we are still waiting for expanded access to driver’s licenses, regardless of immigration status, that would protect workers and families from Trump’s anti-immigrant policies. This remains the most crucial need for immigrants in New Jersey.”

A broad coalition of organizations co-sponsored the rally including New Jersey Alliance For Immigrant Justice, American Civil Liberties Union of New Jersey, 32BJ, Faith in New Jersey, Make the Road New Jersey, LALDEF, New Labor, Wind of the Spirit, Immigrant Center, Camden Health Coalition, RWDSU Local 262, Casa Freehold, New Jersey Policy Perspective, New Jersey Working Families, NJ-08 for Progress, New Jersey Muslim Lawyer’s Association, and CATA-Farm Workers Support Committee.

New research shows the state could collect at least $21 million in the first three years of implementation from fees associated with driving, i.e. permit fees, title fees, and driver’s license fees. Once fully implemented, new drivers are projected to generate at least $90 million annually from fees and taxes, including registration fees, gas tax, and the sales tax on purchases made at gas stations, purchase of vehicles and auto parts.


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There are 6 Comments to "Hundreds Rally Calling For Access To Driver’s Licenses For All Residents In New Jersey"

  • justsayin... says:

    More rewards for people that are here illegally at the expense of the tax payers. Our driver license will be worthless as a valid ID.

    Also the $90 million in projected revenue are false. Motor Vehicle agencies are over worked and under staffed, how long do you wait for your name to be called. They are driving illegally now and getting their cars fixed already buying gas.
    How many new State employees will be needed to handle the new people applying for driver licenses, did the study include salaries benefits, computers office, space needed etc… The study did not because it does not fit their narrative, subtract the expenses that will be the true number.

  • First Step says:

    Getting a license to hold a rally outside the Trenton Statehouse is a good start, and perhaps this will be the first step for them to get other licenses too, including drivers licenses and marriage licenses.
    I once made a big ruckus complaining about the difficulty of getting a drivers license. Some bigwig screamed at me and said, “Who gave you the license to make such a big rickus?

  • Huh says:

    If you can not go about entering the country legally why should you be able to get a driver’s license? What sense does that make? Who voted these morons into office? I am all for people getting a DL; Step one for getting a NJ, USA license should be go back to your country of origin and apply for citizenship….

  • dovid says:

    I support this for 2 reasons 1 is compassion, we need to show solidarity with our most vulnerable populations and recall that the holy Torah states to “love thy stranger as you too were strangers in the land of Egypt” and to stand up to hate. and secondly immigrants are a huge economic boost for this town by opening businesses and making many areas vibrant. their children who are overwhelmingly US citizens attend our local schools and will be our elected officials in the near future so we need to show solidarity.

    • justsayin.... says:

      Let me understand what you are saying. If someone sneaks into your house through the back door and sits on your couch then tells you “here I am, I made it into your house so now you have to take care of me and provide everything that I want and need”.

      You are Ok with this?

  • Sara says:

    Come in legally like my grandparents did.