State AG open to giving licenses to undocumented immigrants

martha coakley boston
Attorney General Martha Coakley is considering support for giving driver’s licenses to undocumented immigrants.
Credit: Nicolaus Czarnecki/Metro

Martha Coakley, the state’s attorney general and candidate for governor, said Tuesday that she’s “open” to the possibility of licensing undocumented immigrants to drive in Massachusetts, softening her position on an issue her rival Steve Grossman sought to use as a wedge between the Democrats.

Grossman, the state treasurer, released a letter on Tuesday that he sent to Coakley’s campaign urging her to drop her “long-standing opposition” to driver’s licenses for undocumented immigrants.

“I would think that as one of the top officials in the state charged with protecting safety and defending against discrimination of people because of their origins, you would share my views,” Grossman wrote.

A spokesman for Coakley told the News Service that she had opposed efforts in the past to offer licenses to undocumented immigrants “with the hope and belief” that the federal government would pass comprehensive immigration reform that would address some of the concerns raised by proponents.

“Because the federal government has failed to act, she is open to working with law enforcement, our elected leaders and the immigrant community to take common-sense steps on this issue,” spokesman Kyle Sullivan said in a statement. He said Coakley has been expressing her view on the issue when asked about it while campaigning.

Grossman last week testified before the Committee on Transportation in favor of a bill (H 3285) filed by Rep. Tricia Farley-Bouvier and Sen. Patricia Jehlen that would eliminate permission for the registrar of motor vehicles to deny a driver’s license based on an applicant’s failure to provide a Social Security number or evidence of immigration status.

The Patrick administration’s new registrar, Celia Blue, testified in support of the bill, arguing it could raise nearly $15 million in new revenue and open insurance to a pool of drivers currently on the road without protection.

“More motorists would be protected from losses from unlicensed drivers because unlicensed drivers are unable to receive insurance,” said Blue.

Grossman, in his letter, called it “an extraordinarily simple public safety issue.” Though he said undocumented immigrants should be judged on their contributions to society and not their legal status under a “complex and much-debated federal law.” Grossman said licensing undocumented immigrants to drive would improve public safety for all in Massachusetts.

Rep. Marc Lombardo, a Billerica Republican, said last week the bill would make Massachusetts a “magnet.”

“To give identification to those who are illegally here allows our ID to essentially mean nothing. It becomes a form of ID that allows those that are illegally here to hide in society with those who are legally here,” Lombardo said.

Follow Metro Boston on Twitter: @MetroBOS



News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
International

Hurricane Odile batters Mexico's Baja resorts, sparks looting

Hurricane Odile injured dozens of people, forced the evacuation of thousands and smashed shops open to looters in the popular tourist area of Baja, Mexico.

National

Apple iPhone 6 pre-orders hit record 4 million…

By Lehar Maan(Reuters) - Apple Inc said many customers will need to wait until next month for their new iPhones after a record 4 million…

National

LAPD investigates complaint from detained 'Django' actress

The LAPD is investigating after "Django Unchained" actress Daniele Watts accused police of violating her rights when they detained her.

Local

Number of New York City smokers increase, topping…

For the first time since 2007, there are  more than one million smokers in New York City, according to the New York City Department of…

Movies

Newsflash: Corey Stoll is still not a man

In director Shaun Levy's "This Is Where I Leave You," Corey Stoll stars as the oldest of four adult children (the others are played by…

Movies

If you don't like Simon Pegg's new film,…

Simon Pegg goes all out in "Hector and the Search for Happiness" as the titular psychiatrist stymied by modern life who embarks on a globetrotting…

Arts

Art in Chelsea: Don't miss these 3 galleries

We selected three sure bets for seeing cool art in the galleries of Chelsea.

Music

Robin Thicke blurs lines further with new 'Blurred…

"The reality is," said Robin Thicke about "Blurred Lines" in a court deposition, "Pharrell had the beat and he wrote almost every single part of the song."

NFL

Tom Coughlin says Giants 'beat themselves' against Cardinals

Head coach Tom Coughlin, who had a day to cool off and reflect, still sounded like he had a gnawing feeling in his gut.

NFL

Marty Mornhinweg accepts blame for Jets timeout fiasco

Jets fans looking for a scapegoat for Sunday’s timeout fiasco found a willing party on Monday: Marty Mornhinweg.

NFL

3 things we learned in Jets loss to…

The wheels came off for the Jets, who gave up 21 unanswered points after a brilliant first 20 minutes in a 31-24 loss at the Packers.

NFL

Victor Cruz catches case of the drops in…

The Giants dropped a tough, 25-14, decision to the undermanned Cardinals Sunday in their home opener. And drop was the operative word of the day,…

Travel

World's most hipster cities: Top 5

Travel blogger Adam Groffman tells us his picks for the Top 5 most hipster cities in the world.

Education

The top 5 regrets recent high school grads…

College application season can seem like a blur for many students - as test prep, campus visits and filling out a seemingly endless stream of…

Parenting

Tech execs tend to limit their kids' screen…

You probably got your iPad before Bill Gates's kids did.

Wellbeing

Wellbeing: Daybreaker returns, Ray Rice jersey trade, Sweet…

  Now that Ray Rice is no longer with the Baltimore Ravens — or any other NFL team — after video footage surfaced showing him…