Legislation making roads and communities safer by opening driver’s licenses to undocumented residents in Massachusetts won’t become law for another year, but anti-immigrant Republicans in the commonwealth are already taking steps to repeal it.
“Geoff Diehl, a Republican candidate for governor, said Thursday that he would support a ballot question to repeal the new law,” CBS News reported immediately after the legislature easily overrode Gov. Charlie Baker’s veto last week. The Boston Globe now reports that Diehl is backing a state committee member’s effort trying to get a repeal on November’s ballot. Baker supports a repeal as well.
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“But with 21 weeks until Election Day and the state Republican Party strapped for cash and volunteers, some say the effort is far-fetched,” The Boston Globe said. The report said that the GOP committee would need to collect more than 40,000 new signatures by Sept. 7. “It’s a high hurdle in a short amount of time,” GOP operative Rob Gray said in the report. “And it’s a heavy organizational challenge.”
But, hey, the effort to get enough signatures to force a recall vote on California Gov. Gavin Newsom also didn’t seem that realistic, until they actually got enough signatures to force an election. The Los Angeles Times reported how recall organizers “allied with radical and extreme elements”—like Proud Boy racists and Q-Anon freaks—“early on to help collect signatures.”
In Massachusetts, Maureen Maloney, the state committee member planning the effort, “has been outspoken on such legislation in the past, and says she plans to use ‘grass-roots’ signature gatherers over a paid gathering firm, she said,” The Boston Globe reported. We’ll see.
While immigrants and their allies have fought hard for this victory, one poll indicates public support is just about evenly split. “Though the measure got broad support from Democratic lawmakers, a recent Suffolk University/Boston Globe poll of Massachusetts residents found that a narrow plurality of respondents—about 47 percent—opposed the legislation,” the report said. “About 46 percent were in favor, and 7 percent undecided.”
But the fact is that roads will be safer with more licensed and insured drivers, while Republicans are leading an effort to have fewer licensed and insured drivers on the road. Republicans want to deprive the state of added revenue from these licenses, and Republicans also favor the separation of Massachusetts families, because getting stopped for something as minor as a broken taillight could lead to deportation.
The legislature’s override of Baker’s veto is a historic win that must be protected. “This legislation will increase safety on our roads by ensuring that everyone has access to a driver’s license, regardless of immigration status,” said Massachusetts House Speaker Ron Mariano after the chamber voted to override Baker’s veto. The law will create “a safer Commonwealth for all,” tweeted Boston Mayor Michelle Wu.
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