close
close

Pennsylvania’s bill would make it easier for undocumented residents to obtain an ID or driver’s license

HARRISBURG, Pa. (KDKA) — There is a bill currently in the works in the Pennsylvania State House aimed at helping undocumented residents of the Commonwealth get an ID or a state driver’s license.

House Bill 769 was authored by Democratic Rep. Danilo Burgos, who represents District 197, part of Philadelphia County.

He says that here in Pennsylvania, before September. On September 11, 2001, if you were undocumented but had an I-10 form, you could obtain an ID or driver’s license. After September 11, federal laws changed and now it’s up to states to figure out how to help get permits for undocumented immigrants who pay taxes here.

“This will contribute to safer streets because we will have people who drive and who can also buy insurance,” Burgos said. “Sometimes they drive and don’t have car insurance because they’re not allowed to buy one. But under federal guidelines, they can pay taxes and buy a house, they can get a business loan with an I-10, but in Pennsylvania we can’t give them a driver’s license or ID. And that’s what this bill aims to do, so that people who are here without papers can have some peace of mind.

New York, Delaware and Maryland all already have similar bills on their books. One immigrant group in Pennsylvania advocating for the passage of this bill here in the Commonwealth is the Filipino American community.

Leilani Mears, the president of the Filipino American Association of Pittsburgh, says this bill is about mobility for her community and helping people who are here as students or on family visas to be able to do basic things like drive to work or make a doctor’s appointment. .

And like Burgos, she says it’s really about safety.

“There is a lot involved in getting a driver’s license,” says Mears. “You have to have driver training, you have to have exams, you have to have eye exams, you have to have insurance. If you have someone who is not allowed to go through that system or go through that process and maybe he or she is driving illegally, it’s dangerous.”

Mears also says that Bill 769 will not only help public safety, but it will also mean more money coming into the state.

“You’re generating revenue for the state,” Mears said. “Because then you get processing fees, you buy vehicles, you buy insurance. It’s millions. It’s millions of dollars in revenue.”

Both Mears and Burgos are hopeful that this bill will come out of committee soon, but they both agree that little will likely be done on this bill until after the fall election.