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The Fight For Driver’s Licenses for All, Regardless of Immigration Status

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at IUP chapter.

Working at a local restaurant near IUP, I have been able to connect with so many people from the Indiana area and beyond. I feel that no interaction is a coincidence, and this is what leads me to write this article.

About a month ago, I met a representative of MILPA– Movement of Immigrant Leaders in PA– named Desi, when she came into the restaurant. She shared with me what this group is doing in communities across the state and encouraged me to become involved. I write this to share the information I learned through her and to encourage others to join this movement.

MILPA advocates for human rights, encompassing various issues the immigrant community faces in the state of Pennsylvania. An active goal right now is the fight for driver’s licenses for all regardless of immigration status. You may ask yourself, “why is this a pressing issue?” Honestly, it is an immediate need beyond what we may initially recognize. 

The “Driving PA Forward” campaign recognizes that safe and secure driver’s licenses are essential for all Pennsylvanians. The campaign is advocating for the bill HB 279, which is sponsored by Representative Burgos in order to “ensure equal access to driver’s licenses for all Pennsylvania residents and protect the security and safety of drivers and identification card holders’ personal information.” Senate support is also imperative in order to secure the right for all to obtain driver’s licenses.

Why is this an immediate issue?

First, here is some background and context of this issue from MILPA’s website:

“Prior to 2002, residents of Pennsylvania were able to legally obtain a driver’s license with a Tax ID Number, or ITIN, a federally issued identifier used to pay taxes by those who do not have a social security number. In 2009, PennDot canceled the licenses of ten thousands of Pennsylvanians who had obtained their licenses legally. There are estimated 150,000 – 200,000 undocumented immigrants in Pennsylvania and MILPA is committed to returning the right to a driver’s license to all families in the keystone state.”

Driving PA Forward campaign

Those without access to a driver’s license are more likely to work jobs with less pay and/or fewer hours and have difficulty securing housing. Aside from securing the rights of and protecting our immigrant community members, this bill would also have a positive impact on our state’s economy through driver’s license registration and help make Pennsylvania’s roads and overall communities as safe as possible. 

To learn more about MILPA and the Driving PA Forward campaign, use this link: https://www.milpafamilia.org/copy-of-driving-pa-forward 

Tatiana Cleffi is a writer for the Her Campus chapter at Indiana University of Pennsylvania (IUP,) who enjoys writing about her personal experiences, particularly in regards to her Latin culture. She is a senior nursing student who is eager to graduate in December 2023. Tatiana is passionate about bridging the language gap in the healthcare setting. She studied medical Spanish abroad to become better equipped to provide nursing care to a diverse range of patients. In her free time, Tatiana enjoys visiting her husband in Costa Rica, going to the beach, singing on the worship team at her church, and eating pumpkin pie.