RICHMOND, VA (THURSDAY, FEBRUARY 15, 2018) – Michelle LaRue, Virginia Director of CASA in Action issued the following statement after recent Virginia General Assembly actions.
“As we end today’s session in the Virginia General Assembly, the last day for each House to complete work on its own legislation, except the Budget bill, we are confronted with the lack of leadership by Chair Yancey. As Chair of the Transportation Committee in the House of Delegates, David Yancey refused to allow discussion in the transportation committee on a bill that would give undocumented immigrants access to driver’s licenses.
“This is one of the most commented bills in Richmond, yet the Chair uses his power to hide himself instead of doing his job; he used his power to sidestep the democratic process.
“Hundreds of people from across the Commonwealth have lobbied the legislature to advocate for access to driver’s licenses for immigrants. What did the Chairman do? Nada. Absolutely nothing. It is OK to disagree on an issue. It is not OK to use your power to hide behind a desk without listening to other legislators and community members who care to have safer roads in Virginia, people who need to drive a sick child to a clinic, people who need to be able to get to work or school and do so many things that are essential in society.
“Because undocumented motorists, particularly in rural areas, don’t have access to licenses they lack access to the tools to be safe, insured drivers. Having a driver’s license is a necessity, not a luxury. The statue needs to be reviewed and revamped.
“Undocumented immigrants in the state paid $240.4 million dollars in state and local taxes in 2012 and, together with other immigrants, compose 15% of the state’s workforce and are more than 17 percent of the state’s business owners. Having access to driver’s licenses would only help immigrants contribute more to Virginia’s economy.
“Unlike twelve states across the nation and the District of Columbia, Virginia does not allow undocumented immigrants to obtain drivers licenses. The licensure process is the way that states ensure that drivers know the rules of the road and have auto insurance.
“This bill didn’t pass the committee in the Senate, but it was presented and discussed. It is important to note that we were disappointed to have Senators Chase and DeSteph vote against the bill, but we will keep working hard so they – along with other members of the legislature – understand that access to driver’s licenses for all residents in our Commonwealth is about make roads safer for everyone.
“What Chair Yancey did this session was to avoid a vital discussion that impacts our roads. Putting an issue as important as this on a drawer to avoid finding a solution is not what leaders do.”
Michelle LaRue lives in Arlington and she is the Virginia Director of CASA in Action.
With nearly 100,000 members, CASA in Action is the Mid-Atlantic region’s largest electoral organization fighting for immigrant rights. Visit CASAinAction.org.