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Why licensing all drivers, regardless of immigration status, makes economic sense

If an age-eligible immigrant without status can pass a driving test, the state should issue them driver’s licenses so they can drive safely to work, school, doctor’s offices, and other places without fear.

There are myriad health, safety, and social reasons to grant licenses to immigrants without status. One of these reasons is economic.

Below are updated versions of our reports that estimate the economic and state fiscal impacts of such a policy. The latest data are primarily from 2018 and 2019.

What’s new:

  • If Massachusetts licenses all drivers, regardless of immigration status, an estimated 45,000 to 85,000 drivers would obtain new licenses within three years of implementation.
  • In the first three years of implementation, the new law could generate an additional $5 million from fees on new licenses, car registrations, titles, inspections, and others.
  • In addition, the state could see an additional $5.1 million per year from taxes on car-related purchases and motor fuel.
  • Newly licensed drivers could spend an additional $14.3 million on cars and parts.
  • Newly licensed drivers could spend an additional $75 million on new insurance policies.
  • Of about 182,000 immigrants without status in Massachusetts, 32 percent work in the service sector, 31 percent work in management, business, science, and the arts, and 13 percent work in production, transportation, and material moving.
  • More than a third of adults without status in Massachusetts holds a bachelor’s degree or higher.
  • 16 other states, Washington D.C., and Puerto Rico already license all drivers, regardless of immigration status.

Find the full reports:

 

 

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