Rabb: We must remove roadblocks and allow undocumented people to get driver’s licenses, learner’s permits

HARRISBURG, Sept. 8 – State Rep. Chris Rabb on Tuesday called for support for legislation that would remove roadblocks preventing undocumented people from getting driver’s licenses and learner’s permits, making it impossible for them to legally drive.

Undocumented people contribute to our communities in ways we often forget," Rabb said. "Many undocumented people work tirelessly at undesirable and difficult jobs; they contribute income and sales tax; and they make our communities more diverse. In Pennsylvania, they do all this without the ability to get a driver's license. But that needs to change.

"We should remove hurdles to prosperity and success for all people who are contributing members of our communities, commonwealth and country," continued Rabb, D-Phila. "Allowing undocumented people to apply for a driver's license in Pennsylvania using documentation that proves the person's name and date of birth, like their federal taxpayer ID number, would allow them to get a driver's license or a learner's permit, and give them the opportunity to contribute more fully to their community and to support themselves and their family."

Rabb, along with state Reps. Danilo Burgos, Joseph Hohenstein and Sara Innamorato, introduced H.B. 2835, which 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.

 The legislation would also improve public safety, as undocumented people would need to pass a driver’s test, which would likely reduce accidents, make roads safer and reduce the number of unlicensed and uninsured drivers on the road.

“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,” said Burgos, D-Phila. “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.”

"It’s not an exaggeration to say that immigrants have a large role in keeping our country running," said Hohenstein, D-Phila. "One in six people fulfilling essential roles during the pandemic is an immigrant. Many are our doctors, nurses and health care 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."

State Rep. Mary Isaacson, D-Phila., who has signed on in support of the legislation, said the bill is a commonsense measure that would benefit everyone.

"Our undocumented neighbors make huge contributions to our commonwealth," Isaacson said. "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 on a daily basis. Making it so they can legally obtain a driver's license or learner's permit is simply the right thing to do."