Burgos, Hohenstein and Isaacson join advocates to promote legislation to help undocumented individuals apply for a driver's license

HARRISBURG, Sept. 8 – State Rep. Danilo Burgos, along with state Reps. Joe Hohenstein, Mary Isaacson, all D-Phila., today joined the Driving PA Forward Coalition at the Saint Francis of Assisi Church to highlight their legislation to help undocumented individuals apply for a driver's license.

 “Our bill is about making Pennsylvania roads safer by requiring that all residents pass the mandatory written and vision examinations and road test to obtain a driver’s license,” Burgos said. “An additional benefit is that the revenue generated from application costs to PennDOT and purchases on car insurance policies would greatly benefit Pennsylvania’s economy -- a much needed relief as our economy struggles to gain stability in the wake of the pandemic.”

Concurring with Burgos, Hohenstein pointed to immigrants comprising a substantial population of Pennsylvania’s workforce, especially as essential workers during the pandemic.

"It’s not an exaggeration to say that immigrants have a large role in keeping our country running," Hohenstein said. "One in six people fulfilling essential roles during the pandemic is an immigrant. Many are our doctors, nurses and healthcare providers. Others are farm workers who sow, tend and harvest our food. Others prepare and serve us our food. All should have access to an official driver's license from the state in order to continue their work in the safest way possible."

Isaacson echoed Hohenstein’s sentiments, saying, "Our undocumented neighbors make huge contributions to our commonwealth. It is only right that we should be removing barriers that prevent them from driving lawfully to their jobs, community functions, to run errands, and to do anything else that any of us do daily. Making it so they can legally obtain a driver's license or learner's permit is simply the right thing to do."

The bill (H.B. 2835) would allow people without a Social Security Number to apply for a driver's license or learner's permit using secure alternatives such as a federal taxpayer identification number, a federal waiver for non-issuance of a Social Security Number for religious reasons, or any combination of documents that reliably proves the applicant’s name and date of birth, including a valid foreign passport, consular identification document, or certified record of the individual’s birth, marriage, adoption or divorce. 

If signed into law, Pennsylvania would join 17 states, including neighboring Delaware, to allow undocumented residents to legally obtain a driver’s license.

The trio of legislators pointed to data that revealed that hit-and-run crashes declined by 9% from 2016 to 2018 statewide in Connecticut after the state implemented similar legislation into law; and in the same period, information obtained by the New England Center for Investigative Reporting found that hit-and-run crashes fell by 15% across 10 Connecticut cities with the highest concentrations of Drive Only licenses issued to undocumented immigrants.

“The roadmap for our legislation exists and has been successful. For Pennsylvania, particularly in rural areas that foster our thriving agricultural industries and where public transportation can be inaccessible, undocumented workers who make a sizeable population of the agricultural and farming workforce have difficulty commuting to work,” Burgos said. “Providing them with the privilege to legally drive allows them to be more attractive for employment opportunities that require a valid driver’s license, expands their employment pool because now they can seek job openings farther away from their home, and ultimately keeps them and other drivers safe on Pennsylvania roads.”