Home Indiana News Senate Committee votes to pass ‘driver’s cards’ for undocumented citizens

Senate Committee votes to pass ‘driver’s cards’ for undocumented citizens


INDIANAPOLIS — After much debate on Tuesday, Senate Bill 248 was passed by the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Transportation, 5 to 4.

If passed into law, the bill would provide identification to undocumented citizens solely for the purpose of driving.

“To have more folks registered and more vehicles insured is probably a good thing for everybody,” said Juan Constantino, the Executive director at La Casa de Amistad in South Bend. An organization that helps immigrant families in various areas.

That way if undocumented citizens were pulled over in a traffic stop or got into an accident, they wouldn’t have to be fearful of deportation, and feel the need to flee.

“It crosses their consciousness every time they get into the driver’s seat, that this could end in their deportation. But what are they doing when they get into the driver’s seat? They’re simply providing for their families,” said Fat her Ryan Pietrocarlo, a Pastor at St. Adalbert and St. Casimir Parishes in South Bend, who spoke in favor of the bill.

The vote comes as numerous cities consider supporting the measure through resolutions.

Warsaw City Council is currently considering a resolution to support the bill.

According to supporters of Senate Bill 248, 18 states across the United States have already passed similar bills.

While some members of state senate opposed the bill stating that it would encourage undocumented citizens to go around the law, more than a dozen that testified in favor of the legislature stated that the issue was completely separate from the federal issue of documentation.

“There is no line. So, there are some people that are able to adjust their status here in the U.S. because they marry a United States citizen, or because they have some kind of special training or skill, and they do the visa process to get here. Very minimal in today’s day and age,” testified Felipe Merino, an attorney that has specialized in immigration cases.

And organizations across the state have agreed, that Senate Bill 248 would simply make sure that all residents are safe on the roads.

“The federal issue of folks getting legal status and then the state issue of folks being able to obtain driver’s cards are two different conversations. One is driving privileges and the rights to get behind a vehicle and insuring and registering it and then another one is an entirely federal process that we should leave to our federal legislators,” Constantino said.

Only eligible individuals will be able to apply. Qualifications include, but are not limited to, being a permanent resident of Indiana for at least a year, proof of paying Indiana taxes, undergoing fingerprinting and background checks, and passing a BMV-issued driver’s test.

Driver’s Privilege Cards would expire and need to be renewed each year.

” I think the number of advocates, elected officials, community leaders, and just families across the state of Indiana that are rallying behind this senate bill is very telling of what needs to happen,” Constantino said.

For more information on Senate Bill 248, click here.