Work and Family Mobility Act

Work and Family Mobility Act

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by Bridget Spann
Community Outreach Organizer 
First Congregational Church of Williamstown, MA

In my role as community outreach organizer at First Congregational Church Williamstown, I work with six different immigrant families to connect them with community resources and support. Living in the Berkshires and relying on public transportation is a huge challenge, especially with groceries, laundry, or small children. Accessing specialized medical care or immigration appointments in Boston, Springfield or Hartford, CT is a logistical feat to attempt without a driver’s license; due to a routine lack of viable public transportation options (meaning one that doesn’t necessitate an overnight stay because schedules are so limited), First Congregational Church Williamstown has coordinated volunteer drivers to transport immigrants to important medical and legal appointments.

Now COVID-19 has exposed the ways in which people of color and immigrants, many of whom are essential workers, have been disproportionately impacted by the pandemic. The inability to apply for a driver’s license has further exposed many immigrant families to unsafe transportation options. Consider this: do we really want those needing to get tested for COVID-19 to take public transportation to the testing site, thereby exposing others? And how do you access drive thru COVID testing without a driver’s license? And finally, for those fortunate enough to be vaccinated for COVID, what was requested at the door to verify that you are a MA resident? A state-issued identification card, which many of our MA residents cannot easily access.

Sixteen states including VT, NY, and CT have already made driver’s licenses available to residents regardless of their immigration status, which has resulted in more licensed (trained and insured) drivers on the road, a reduction in hit and run accidents, and more revenue for the state via RMV and insurance companies. When a law enforcement officer pulls over a driver without a license, this road stop may become a time-consuming activity that can take an officer off the road for a few hours and involve an immigrant in the criminal justice system.

Undocumented immigrants are not so much undocumented as they are without status. They have passports, consular identification cards, and birth certificates from their home countries that prove their identity. Allowing immigrants to access driver’s licenses would enable them to share their verified identification with law enforcement, which is partly why this legislation has received the support of the MA Major City Chiefs of Police Association, with a strong endorsement from its president, Chelsea Police Chief Brian Keyes.

Earlier this week, the Boston Globe Editorial Board released an op-ed citing why the passage of the Work & Family Mobility Act is essential for racial justice, public health, public safety, and economic equity. It’s time for a more equitable Massachusetts. Representative Tricia Farley-Bouvier, Representative Christine P. Barber, Senator Brendan Crighton, and Senator Adam Gomez are the lead sponsors of the Work & Family Mobility Act.

TODAY please contact your elected representatives to ask them to co-sponsor the Work & Family Mobility Act or to thank them for co-sponsoring this legislation (check this list of co-sponsors: HD.448 / SD.273). Thank you for joining us to advocate for the Work & Family Mobility Act, to support immigrants in our communities and to promote increased public safety for us all.   

More information: Driving Families Forward | Facebook  
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Endorsed by the SNEUCC Immigration, Refugee and Asylum Task Team

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Bridget Spann

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