Last updated on January 31, 2021 1:56 pm
BY TOM OZIMEK January 30, 2021 Updated: January 30, 2021
Republican senators have introduced legislation that would block certain federal funds flowing to states that allow illegal immigrants to obtain driver’s licenses.
Sen. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.) said Thursday that she, along with a number of GOP senators, including Sens. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), Tom Cotton (R-Ark.), Joni Ernst (R-Iowa), Steve Daines (R-Mont.), Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.), and Mike Braun (R-Ind.), have introduced the Stop Greenlighting Driver Licenses for Illegal Immigrants Act. The bill targets sanctuary states that allow immigrants to get driver’s licenses without proof that they legally reside in the United States.
“No town in America is secure from criminals and terrorists if our borders aren’t policed and federal immigration laws aren’t fully enforced,” Blackburn said in a statement. “This country is governed by the rule of law. We should not reward illegal aliens with driver licenses when they fail to follow the proper legal process.”
Similar legislation was introduced in both chambers by Blackburn and Rep. Ken Buck (R-Colo.) in February 2020, but it died in the Democrat-controlled Congress after it did not receive a vote. Buck said in a Jan. 28 statement that he plans to reintroduce the bill on Monday.
“My home state of Colorado has its own green-light sanctuary laws on the books, which led to the senseless death of Sean Buchanan,” Buck said in a statement. “Sean was a loving father of five from Colorado Springs who was struck and killed by an illegal immigrant who was driving under a suspended state-issued driver license. Sean’s death was completely preventable, and we cannot reward criminal behavior by allowing states to provide sanctuary to illegal immigrants.”
The act halts Department of Justice grant funding, under the Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grant (JAG) Program, to states that defy federal immigration law.
Blackburn said that in the fiscal year 2020, states that issued driver licenses to illegal immigrants received over $53 million from the JAG program.
“This law will require states that issue driver licenses to illegal aliens or states that fail to share immigration enforcement information with the DHS to return unallocated funds to the JAG program within 30 days,” she said.
It would also make states that don’t comply with the driver license and federal information-sharing provisions ineligible to receive future JAG funds.
One sanctuary state that the bill would target is Oregon, whose legislature passed the “Driver License for All” law that took effect on Jan. 1, 2021. The law makes it no longer necessary for people to provide proof of legal presence in the United States to obtain an Oregon driver’s license.
“Individuals must still provide proof of full legal name and identity, date of birth, Oregon residency, and a Social Security Number,” the Oregon Department of Motor Vehicles said, KPIC reports. “If an individual has not been assigned a Social Security number, they must sign and submit a written statement with their application.”
According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, 15 states and the District of Columbia have passed laws to allow illegal immigrants to obtain driver’s licenses: California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Maryland, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Utah, Vermont, and Washington.