Days ahead of Thanksgiving,  LAMPa joined coalition partners in the state Capitol to recognize the contributions of immigrant farmworkers to our holiday tables and to advance protections for those workers and their families.  Watch the video “Blessed Be.”

“A driver’s license is needed in order to take kids to school, medical appointments, and even enjoy leisure activities,” said Julissa Morales, a coordinator of the coalition and organizer with the Movement of Immigrant Leaders in PA (MILPA). “Our coalition has been a great space to show that this legislation would benefit all Pennsylvanians.”  Hear the stories of  immigrant parents in Pennsylvania in this video as they share the everyday challenges they face. 

Panelists shared stories of a spouse being deported because of a routine traffic stop without identification, of job opportunities lost because the risk of driving further is too great, of a child living in fear that their parents would be detained and deported because they got in a simple accident. Providing driver’s licenses for all who call PA home, regardless of their documentation status, would alleviate the looming fear of deportation and family separation.  Add your voice to theirs by sending a note to your lawmakers with our action alert

The bill would allow the workforce that PA agriculture depends on to be more mobile and versatile and increase economic opportunity for many. It is also projected to bring in more than $13 million to the Commonwealth’s economy based on license and registration fees alone. This legislation would help ensure that our food supply and agricultural industry can remain competitive and robust. 

HB769 would grant unmarked (non-Real ID) licenses to all regardless of immigration and citizenship status. It does not grant voter registration to anyone who is not a citizen. It simply gives those who already call PA home—who make our economy, agricultural industry, and communities vibrant—a way to safely live and travel, without fear of deportation and the trauma of family separation. The coalition gathered more than 100 Pennsylvanians of a diversity of walks of life, faith communities, and immigrant status to present a bold and united front to legislators to demand the bill move forward, especially urging Rep. Ed Nielsen to move it out of the House Transportation Committee for a floor vote. 

The legislation aims to make Pennsylvania’s roads safer. From policymakers to law enforcement, from farmers to faith communities, there is a consensus that roads and communities are safer when everyone behind the wheel has a license, insurance, and identification. It is necessary to encourage all drivers in PA to obtain: Accessible driving licenses and valid identification for everyone is a common sense policy.  A standard (NON-Real ID) Driver’s License is required for valid identification, proof of insurance and adequate knowledge of the rules and responsibilities of the road. Nationwide, 19 states and the District of Columbia have adopted similar legislation. 

The bill would also ensure the privacy of driver information, adding a host of crucial protections for driver data, including safeguard around sharing personal information for ALL drivers. It DOES NOT allow non-citizens to vote.

From 1992-2002, Pennsylvania law did allow all residents to obtain a driver’s license, regardless of citizenship. The changes that happened to that process have not made Pennsylvanians safer, and have endangered the livelihood of undocumented residents and lessened road safety.

LAMPa engages in advocacy on this legislation because of our commitment to listening to the most vulnerable in our society. In the ELCA’s Social Message on Immigration, the Church is called to listen to immigrants and refugees because they “keep before us—so that we do not forget—the grim realities many immigrants face and the strength of character and resourcefulness newcomers demonstrate.” When Jesus encourages us to care for the “least of these” in Matthew 25, we understand that to mean God is found in a particular way where there is need. Pastor Erin Jones, LAMPa’s advocacy engagement coordinator,  was honored to open the panel with prayer, reflecting on Jesus’ practice of telling stories about how agricultural laborers and their experiences reflect the reign of God. If we take our call to follow Jesus seriously, we listen to the voices of immigrants and work toward a world where they are given dignity and what they need to create a sustainable and abundant life. Our siblings who are undocumented residents are telling us that what they need to be shown care and respect is the ability to drive safely and without fear. LAMPa is honored to accompany them and add our voices to achieving this seemingly small but powerful measure.