NJ Politics Digest: Coughlin May Stall Licenses For Undocumented

At dawn, cars drive down the US 9 highway past Newark Liberty International Airport, Newark, New Jersey.

At dawn, cars drive down the US 9 highway past Newark Liberty International Airport, Newark, New Jersey. mith Collection/Gado/Getty Images

Gov. Phil Muphy and Democrats who control the state legislature support the idea of allowing undocumented immigrants to obtain drivers licenses.

However, it’s likely no action will be taken until after next year’s election due to the fact that all seats in the state Assembly are being contested, according to a column by Charles Stile in the Record. While Democrats have a strong grip on the Assembly, Speaker Craig Coughlin is loath to give Republicans any ammunition to attack candidates and so will likely delay a vote on the plan until the post-election lame-duck legislative session, according to the column.

The politicking has those who have been fighting for the measure frustrated, since they say allowing undocumented immigrants to drive legally is a matter of safety—they would have to be tested and have insurance just like all other drivers—as well as fairness.

A panel convened by former Gov. Jon Corzine in 2009 recommended the state create a “driver’s privilege card” for undocumented immigrants. But that proposal went nowhere as Corzine ran for re-election and was ultimately defeated by Republican Chris Christie.

Among the proposals now being considered is for the state to adopt a two-tiered driver’s license system when it upgrades New Jersey licenses to meet federal mandates necessary for the documents to be used by people to get on airplanes and into federal buildings.

When the state adopts regulations to comply with the REAL ID act, it would also allow for a license that would allow undocumented people to drive, but their license wouldn’t be used as ID under the federal regulations, according to the column.

Quote of the Day: “If he wanted to be governor, he should have run. It’s not everybody else’s fault that he didn’t have the onions to do it,” — Hudson County Executive Tom DeGise, blaming Sweeney’s animosity toward fellow Democrat Gov. Phil Murphy for squabbling among the state party’s leaders.

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NJ Politics Digest: Coughlin May Stall Licenses For Undocumented