Illegal immigrants will soon be able to apply for driver’s licenses in Minnesota as the Land of 10,000 Lakes joins 19 other states and the District of Columbia in adopting policies that waive certain requirements for those hoping to acquire the document.
The “Driver’s License for All” law, which comes into effect Oct. 1, was signed by Governor Tim Walz earlier this year, reversing a rule implemented by the state two decades ago in light of the 9/11 terrorist attacks.
“We’re incredibly proud to be a part of a handful of states that offer driver’s license for all,” said Pong Xiong, Driver and Vehicle Services Director at the Minnesota Department of Public Safety.
He explained that the only part of the process that will change is the requirement that applicants show proof that they are legally in the United States. People with no papers at all will, however, still be turned away; an unexpired foreign passport or other form of identification must be provided.
As the Associated Press reports, proponents of the law have suggested that because many illegal migrants will start driving when they arrive in Minnesota regardless of whether they have taken a road test, it is in the interest of public safety to ensure they are licensed so that everyone, regardless of their status, has been certified to drive in the state.
Opponents, however, have pointed out that providing illegal immigrants with government-issued identification could open the door to illegal voting.
Walz addressed those concerns in a press conference following his signing of the bill in March, claiming that there have not been any cases of a driver’s license being used to commit voter fraud in Minnesota in the past 20 years.
The state is home to an estimated 81,000 illegal immigrants eligible to obtain driver’s licenses under the new law.