Gov. Baker Vetoes Illegal Alien License Bill


In a move reminiscent of the legendary actions of King Canute, who was said to have tried to command the tides to recede, Gov. Charlie Baker on Friday vetoed a bill making illegal immigrants eligible to seek state-issued driver's licenses. He said  the Registry of Motor Vehicles, an agency that he oversees, doesn't have the ability to verify the identities of potential applicants. But with an insignificant number of  fellow Republicans on Beacon Hill, the gesture is merely symbolic, though polling has shown the generally publicly to be almost equally divided on the matter.

Following years of advocacy for the bill, House and Senate Democrats on Thursday enacted the legislation, which supporters claim will make the roads safer by granting access to licenses for many illegal immigrants who are already living throughout the state.

Republican opposition to the bill was steady throughout its journey through the Legislature, and officeholders and candidates at the GOP convention last weekend in Springfield sporadically and pointedly expressed their opposition to the proposal.

In his veto message, Baker said the legislation "significantly increases the risk that noncitizens will be registered to vote," a possibility that bill supporters deny. The governor said the bill "restricts the Registry's ability to share citizenship information with those entities responsible for ensuring that only citizens register for and vote in our elections."

The bill cleared both branches with more than enough support to override Baker's veto.

It will be up to the House to initiate a veto override, with a two-thirds vote required in each branch to make the bill law. Ana Vivas, a spokeswoman for Speaker Ron Mariano, said the House plans to take its override vote on June 8.

The House voted 118-36 Thursday to accept the conference committee report on the bill; the Senate vote was 32-8.

Under the bill (H 4805), expanded access to standard driver's licenses would begin on July 1, 2023. Applicants under the bill would need to provide `proof' of their identity, date of birth and residency in Massachusetts.

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