Cumberland Freeholders Adamant on Driver’s Licenses for the Undocumented

Sauro and Fiocchi
Fiocchi and Sauro at a Cape May Courthouse town hall last month

Following Assemblyman Sam Fiocchi and his 2015 running mate Cumberland County Freeholder Jim Sauro’s public call for residents to voice their opposition to the board’s resolution on driver’s licenses for undocumented immigrants, members of the board say they are unmoved. The resolution urged the legislature to consider allowing driver’s licenses for undocumented workers, with Sauro being the sole opposing vote.

After the Republican side announced their disapproval of the resolution, their Democratic rivals Assemblyman Bob Andrzejczak and Bruce Land told PolitickerNJ that they agreed with Fiocchi and Sauro on the driver’s license issue.

“I have good friends on that Freeholder Board, but they are dead wrong on this issue,” said Fiocchi in a previous statement.  “Giving legal driver’s licenses to illegal immigrants makes no sense.”

Sauro is being challenged by two of his fellow freeholders, who say that the resolution was an attempt to encourage the state to address a pressing public safety issue and not an incitement to swim against the tide of federal immigration policy.

“They want to link it to the immigration issue, and that’s a federal issue,” said Republican Freeholder Tom Sheppard. “What we’re trying to do is address a problem that exists in rural Cumberland County.”

“People are driving without a good license and without insurance and it’s causing a problem for them, and for the people if they happen to run into somebody,” he said.

“It would be good for the undocumented immigrants and for the other driving public.” “It would be good for everybody. The whole issue of immigration is a whole different issue.”

Saying that 12 other states have begun allowing undocumented workers to obtain driver’s licenses and subsequently reduced fatality rates, Democratic Freeholder and Public Safety Liaison Joe Derella added that allowing the licenses would be a step toward insuring more drivers and a boon to the local economy in allowing immigrants a more secure place in civic life.

“What we’re saying is that we’re encouraging the state to consider allowing undocumented immigrants, who have children who were born in this country and have no criminal record, to go through instruction and training in taking the test on the rules of the road to get a driver’s license,” said Derella. “Which in turn allows them to get insurance, which in turn allows them register their vehicle with the state of New Jersey.”

“We have the largest agricultural business in the state of NJ, our county is number one,” he said. “That community is supported by a lot of workers that are undocumented.”

Describing the announcements as capitulation to national polling trends and to the rise of Donald Trump, Sheppard said of Trump’s proposed deportation plans that “[if] you deport 11 million people, our economy would collapse.”

“They’re more worried about the appearance than the actual application,” he said of the Fiocchi and Andrzejczak camps.

Asked whether the announcements would hold sway with the public in Cumberland County and the rest of the second district, Sheppard said he was doubtful.

“Most people understand the problem, so I don’t think there’s going to be a net gain from it,” he said.

Cumberland Freeholders Adamant on Driver’s Licenses for the Undocumented