Opponents of the state’s new immigrant license law say they have collected nearly twice the number of signatures required to ask voters to repeal it.
MassGOP chief Jim Lyons said 78,000 signatures had been verified by local clerks so far.
“My son Matthew was killed 11 years ago by an unlicensed, drunk, illegal alien who ran through a stop sign and collided with him,” Maureen Maloney told a crowd outside Boston City Hall Wednesday. “Since my son’s death, I have been advocating against driver’s licenses for illegal aliens.”
Maloney and fellow advocates had until Wednesday to collect just over 40,000 signatures to place a question on the November ballot over whether illegal immigrants should be able to get Massachusetts driver’s licenses.
In May, Gov. Charlie Baker refused to sign House Bill 4805, “An Act relative to work and family mobility,” which would allow someone to use identification issued by their home country to establish their identity for the purpose of getting a driver’s license.
Baker said that because the registry is not equipped to verify those documents, a Massachusetts license will lose its validity as a form of identification.
The Legislature passed the law over the governor’s veto. Maloney was quick to respond with a signature drive aimed at asking the voters what they think.
“Voters lined up to sign our petition,” she said. “There was and is tremendous support for voters to repeal the law.”
Advocates in favor of the law — including some police groups — have said that will make the roads safer by allowing those who must drive to do so legally and with insurance coverage.
“The Work and Family Mobility Act keeps people safer by ensuring that all drivers, regardless of immigration status, know and follow the rules of the road, take the same driver’s test and have insurance when they need it,” said Elizabeth Sweet, executive director of the Massachusetts Immigrant and Refugee Advocacy (MIRA) Coalition.
“If this issue makes it to the fall ballot, our united coalition — which includes police chiefs, district attorneys and more — will promote keeping this smart, common sense, humane policy on the books,” Sweet added.
Lyons said signature gatherers were met with stiff opposition in their efforts, finding protestors wherever they went.
“What we’re seeing is democracy in action,” Lyons said. “What we saw the radical left do is organize from the beginning to interfere with our constitutional rights. Just think about that.”
“The media has been silent on that, they have been silent. Just like the media is always silent on it. They refuse to point out the radical nature of the left,” he said.
Kelley Wooding said she was one of the original signers of the petition. She told the Herald that her desire to see the question on the November ballot has nothing to do with racism — relatives of hers were killed by the Nazi regime, she said — and isn’t an anti-immigrant stance, but is a matter of safety.
“Accidents go up by 20% after these laws are passed in other states,” she said. “I’m all for legal immigration, but there is a process.”