Mar 7, 2023 - Politics

Minnesota to allow undocumented immigrants to apply for driver's licenses


Gov. Tim Walz speaks ahead of signing the bill. Photo: Torey

Minnesotans will be able to obtain driver's licenses regardless of their immigration status under a law signed by Gov. Tim Walz on Tuesday.

The big picture: The measure, which passed the DFL-majority Legislature in recent weeks, will allow an estimated 81,000 people living in the state without permanent legal status to apply for a license or state-issued ID card.

What they're saying: Supporters say the change will allow people already working — and, in many cases, driving — in the state to go about their daily lives with dignity and without fear.

  • They argue it will also make roads safer by leading more motorists to take a driver's exam and obtain insurance.

The other side: Republicans have expressed concerns that the IDs could make it easier for people to sign up to vote or get other government benefits they aren't eligible for due to their immigration status.

  • GOP-backed amendments to include additional markings on the licenses were rejected by Democrats.

Of note: Minnesota does not require ID to vote, but a license is one option for demonstrating residency when registering.

Context: The so-called "Driver's Licenses for All" bill, which repeals a 2003 change that required proof of legal residency to apply for a license, had been debated at the Legislature for years.

What's next: Undocumented immigrants will be able to apply for their IDs beginning in October, Walz said.


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