Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker on Friday vetoed a plan that would have let the state issue driver’s licenses to illegal immigrants over identity verification concerns as well as concerns involving voting.
“The Registry does not have the expertise to verify the validity of many types of documents from other countries,” he wrote in his veto message.
“This legislation also undoes a critical safeguard to the driver’s license issuance process that I signed into law just six years ago,” he added. “Consequently, a standard Massachusetts driver’s license will no longer confirm that a person is who they say they are.”
He also said the measure would “significantly increase the risk that noncitizens will be registered to vote.”
This is because the bill does not have any measures that would help tell apart a lawful citizen and an illegal immigrant, and furthermore, it restricts the registry from sharing citizenship information with “entities responsible for ensuring that only citizens register for and vote in our elections,” he said.
Massachusetts’ Secretary of the Commonwealth disagreed. He told the Boston Globe on the same day, “How the governor manages to link that to the license issue, I am confused and baffled.”
Supporters of the bill say it could help improve safety on roads.
Elizabeth Sweet, executive director of the Massachusetts Immigrant and Refugee Advocacy (MIRA) Coalition said that she was “deeply disappointed” in Baker’s veto of the measure.
The bill had passed the state House and Senate—both with Democrat majorities—with more than enough votes to override any veto from the governor. The House initially passed the bill with a 120-36 vote, and the Senate voted in favor with a 32-8 vote. On May 26, the House voted 118-36 to accept the conference committee report on the measure.