Pennsylvania Democrats Propose New Bill for Undocumented Immigrants to Obtain Driver’s License
Tuesday, February 16, 2021

Pennsylvania Democrats have proposed House Bill 279, which would amend state law to grant a driver’s license without a Social Security number, enabling undocumented immigrants to receive a learner’s permit or a driver’s license, by using just their taxpayer identification number and some additional documents. The Bill was introduced by Democratic Representatives Danilo Burgos and Christopher M. Rabb, Joseph C. Hohenstein, Sara Innamorato, and Republican Representatives Christopher B. Quinn and Jonathan D. Hershey.

The current Bill has been introduced by the proponents of a similar Bill, House Bill 2835, which was introduced in the Pennsylvania House of Representatives last September.

Who in Pennsylvania Is Eligible to Obtain a Driver’s License?

Generally, it is not possible for an undocumented immigrant to obtain a Social Security number, which is the primary deterrent to their obtaining a driver’s license. Under the new Bill, any non-citizen who has a taxpayer identification number issued by the Internal Revenue Service will be eligible to apply for a learner’s permit or a driver’s license. In addition to providing their taxpayer identification number, the non-citizen will have to provide additional documents to show the date of birth. Documents such as a passport, a birth certificate, any government-issued identification, or any combination of documents that reliably proves the applicant’s name and date of birth are acceptable.

Like every other applicant for a Pennsylvania driver’s license, the non-citizen will have to pass a “road test” to prove their ability to safely operate a motor vehicle.

Reactions to the Bill

Providing driver’s licenses to undocumented immigrants will make the roads safer, as drivers will have passed a road test, and a greater number of drivers will be insured. Also, it is expected that individuals with licenses will feel more comfortable reporting accidents and cooperating with law enforcement.

“In today’s fast paced world, a driver’s license is essential to earn a living, travel safely, and live a dignified existence,” the bill’s sponsors wrote in a memo on their proposal. “Unfortunately, countless undocumented persons are unable to apply for a driver’s license in Pennsylvania because they do not have the Social Security number…As a result, they contribute to our economy without equal protections and basic rights that the rest of us enjoy, such as the ability to drive safely to work, school, and businesses.”

“From an economic perspective, the revenue generated from application costs to [the Department of Transportation] and purchases on car insurance policies would greatly benefit Pennsylvania’s economy – a much-needed relief as our economy struggles to gain stability during this crisis,” sponsor Rep. Danilo Burgos said of similar legislation he introduced at last year’s session.

Green Light Law

Sixteen states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico have passed the law granting driver’s licenses for undocumented immigrants, also referred to as the “Green light law.”


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