Can giving illegal immigrants driver's licenses keep roads safe?
BOSTON (MyFoxBoston.com) -- Lawmakers will soon consider passing a bill that would allow illegal immigrants to get a driver's license.
The Massachusetts Immigrant and Refugee Advocacy Coalition, or MIRA, is backing the bill.
Policy director Shannon Erwin says that issuing licenses to undocumented immigrants would make the roads safer because they would have to pass all of the RMV requirements and get insurance.
"It would let more drivers take the drivers' exam. More people to learn the rules of the road, more people to purchase individual liability insurance," Erwin said. "Nobody wants to be in an accident with an uninsured driver."
Maureen Maloney lost her son, Matthew Denice, in August 2011 when illegal immigrant Nicolas Guaman allegedly struck and killed Matthew with his truck, dragging Matthew's body down a Milford street.
Guaman is charged with his murder.
"It's a slap in the face to us. It's a slap in the face to everybody," Maloney said. "The person that killed my son Matthew had a second grade education from Ecuador. He does not speak English. He does not speak Spanish. He speaks a rare dialect called Quechua."
MIRA said the bill would protect families like Matthew Denice's, and points out similar laws are in effect in Connecticut, Nevada, New Mexico, and Washington D.C.
"Immigration status doesn't belong in a number of areas of state laws. Our state has a responsibility to protect the safety of every driver on the road," Erwin said. "If we know that people are already driving without a license, to take their children to school and to doctors' appointments, it makes sure that we do so safely, knowing the rules of the road and carrying liability insurance."
Maloney sees the issue in a different way.
"We would be rewarding people that have broke the laws of our country to come into our country. Why would we reward people that have broken the law?"
Lawmakers have scheduled a hearing on the bill for Feb. 5. An online petition in support of the bill was signed by nearly 1,800 supporters by Saturday.