Granting drivers licenses to illegal immigrants would continue under Senate bill

By Ilana Kowarski

Maryland drivers license sample.A bill continuing Maryland’s practice of granting driver’s licenses to illegal immigrants received preliminary approval from state senators Friday, paving the way for a final vote on the legislation.

This Senate legislation was sponsored by Sen. Victor Ramirez, D-Prince George’s, a longtime advocate for Maryland’s immigrant community who sponsored the bill allowing state residents to receive in-state tuition regardless of their immigration status. That bill passed in last year’s referendum.

Ramirez is once again facing resistance for his pro-immigrant policies from Republicans who argue that illegal immigrants should not receive the benefits of citizenship.

Senate Minority Leader E.J Pipkin, R-Upper Shore, said on Friday that Maryland will become a “safe haven” and “magnet” for illegal immigrants if the state does not stop giving them licenses.

Maryland currently distributes second-class licenses to those who cannot prove that they are legal residents, but that practice will stop unless the General Assembly repeals a statute that prohibits the distribution of licenses to illegal immigrants after July 1, 2015.

Responding to federal law

The General Assembly enacted this statute in 2009 in response to the REAL ID Act, which required states to verify the citizenship of driver’s license applicants before giving them a standard license.  Right now, illegal immigrants may obtain a special license which is marked “not to be used for federal purposes,” meaning that the licenses cannot be used to board an aircraft but may be used to drive a car.  However, these licenses cannot be issued or renewed after July 2015 unless state laws are changed.

Ramirez’s proposed law, SB715, and its cross-filed bill, HB789, would continue this special license program indefinitely, and his fellow Democrats say that this is appropriate, because unlicensed and uninsured drivers are a danger to everyone on the roads. They argue that the best policy is to encourage illegal immigrants to get licenses so that they can be trained, tested, and insured before they start driving.

Senate Judicial Proceedings Chair Brian Frosh, D-Montgomery, made this argument, saying that there were compelling public safety reasons for giving licenses to illegal immigrants who drive.

“We can reduce the problems they create by requiring them to pass the driving test,” Frosh said.

Pipkin said that he strongly disagreed with this line of reasoning.  “Let me get this straight,” he said.  “They’re here illegally, and they’re driving without a license and without insurance.  Do you really think we should reward that behavior?”

About The Author

Len Lazarick

Len Lazarick was the founding editor and publisher of and is currently the president of its nonprofit corporation and chairman of its board He was formerly the State House bureau chief of the daily Baltimore Examiner from its start in April 2006 to its demise in February 2009. He was a copy editor on the national desk of the Washington Post for eight years before that, and has spent decades covering Maryland politics and government.


  1. Carolina

    The people who have the entire right to actually decide whether or not illegal IMMIGRANTS not ALIENS should have a license or not are the Native Americas because they are the true Americans not the ones who call themselves Americans just because they were born here or because their parents were born here. Lets trace back way back WE ALL ARE IMMIGRANTS and who gave them the right to call themselves CITIZENS???? Whether people like it or not this country needs the work that illegal immigrants do because other will not do it and in order to see our economy grow a little more we need to pass laws like such. As a Latina born in the States and have parents who are American Citizen I believe we need to be opened minded and see that we need to help each other in order to help ourselves. Blessings

    • Brandy from Las Vegas

      I agree with you 200%!I am a born us citzen and married to a wonderful hard working father and husband for 7 long wonderful years and guess what I’m ashamed to be what the us calls us CITZENS wow really it is very true no american citzen I know will be willing to do the hard work my husband does but yet no one wants them kind here and you know something else just know the 9 times out of 10 the houses these US CITZENS live in those as they call them ILLEGAL IMMIGRANTS built those house can you believe what this country is coming to!Blessings to you too!!!!

  2. abby_adams

    Compelling public safety reasons for giving illegals drivers licenses? Is it so their dream act kids can get carpooled to school? The progressives in Annapolis just keeping rewarding law breaking while punishing the average, law abiting, taxpaying citizen. One question is still lurking in the reasoning for this reward for illegals, don’t we insure the vehicle & driver? Not just the driver. At least that’s what my auto insurer keeps telling me.

    • Jazzee

      someone should sue….if your child from another state can’t get in state tuition than why can an illegal??????????????????????? where is the logic??

  3. Bob Higginbotham

    Illegal aliens do not deserve and should not be given any consideration for anything. That includes food stamps, housing, and work. Giving these criminals a drivers license goes a long way toward legitimizing them and definitely should not happen. I’m sure if the citizens of Maryland realize how many millions or billions Ramirez is costint the legitimate citizens of Maryland he would no longer be part of the legislature.

    • Jazzee

      here is my question: if they don’t have to obey our laws then why do we??? This means I don’t need car insurance, or renew my license to drive, or get a ticket when speeding, etc. right???? WHY DO the laws only apply to those of us who ask for nothing from this lousy gov……this all makes me so angry…so tired of illegals, gays and guns………….meanwhile the country has no money, no jobs and more food stamps and welfare wow what a great job idiots in DC

      • Jacob W

        Jazzee, that shows how corrupt our government is, it wants to get in more illegals, taking our jobs away. Its a shame that our politicians in dc are so much welcoming the illegals, sorry I should be political correct (undocumented) people, more than they’re making us comfortable.

  4. Blake

    Attract lower skilled foreign labor to diminish the value of the American worker and then give them a drivers license is the work of mis guided mercy mongers and racialism. If we were talking about 400 thousand Maryland illegals from Canada Maryland’s black and minority representatives would not be interested in this bill at all. Racism plays a large part in bills like this not reason or representative government. A sad American Tale.

  5. Jason Wright

    Every White country on the planet is forced to become multicultural and multiracial.

    EVERY white country is told to end its own race and culture.

    No one asks that of ANY non-White country. Immigration and forced-assimilation is for ALL & ONLY White countries.

    Anti-Whites call themselves “anti-racist”, but their words & actions lead to the genocide of only one group: White people.

    The true goal of anti-racism is to genocide my people.

    Anti-racist is a codeword for anti-White.