HARRISBURG, PA. (Erie News Now) – The Driving PA Forward coalition rallied on the stairs of the State Capitol Tuesday to address access to driver’s licenses for undocumented people living in Pennsylvania.
Driving PA Forward is a coalition of organizations pushing the passage of House Bill 279.
There are roughly 11-million undocumented individuals in the United States.
Advocates like Guillermo Perez say many of those who are undocumented play a vital role in the economy.
“Three out of four undocumented immigrants work in essential sectors of this economy. We wouldn’t survive this pandemic without the work of immigrant workers,” said Perez, who serves as President of the Pittsburgh Chapter of the Labor Council for Latin American Advancement.
“Our immigration system is broken, it’s not working. It’s not working for working people,” said Perez.
Perez says there needs to be comprehensive immigration reform that provides a clear pathway to citizenship.
In the meantime, millions of undocumented immigrants will continue working to provide for themselves and their families. Advocates say it’s becoming more challenging without a driver’s license.
“Until we get there, we have to live with these kinds of legislative fights,” said Perez. “It would be better to win a reform and then we wouldn’t have to fight for such basic things such as access to a driver’s license.”
Currently, residents of Pennsylvania who seek a driver’s license must provide proof of lawful status in the United States.
Advocates say providing access to licenses for everyone would increase safety and accountability, increase the number of insured drivers on the roads, and help boost local economies.
They say ensuring all drivers are trained, tested, licensed, insured and accountable for their driving records would make the roads safer. They add that it would help police by using licenses to identify individuals and check their driving records during traffic stops. The coalition says the same is for first responders and medical professionals when assisting an individual in the event of a medical emergency.