Faith leaders push to expand driver's licenses to undocumented immigrants

TRENTON, N.J. (KYW Newsradio) —  More than 100 members of the clergy and faith leaders across New Jersey have penned an open letter to state leaders, calling for quick action of a measure to expand access to driver's licenses to those having a hard time getting them, including undocumented immigrants. 

Fourteen states and the District of Columbia have done so, and this group of Christian, Jewish and Muslim leaders support the move pushed by a group called Faith in New Jersey.

“This piece of legislation will lift up all of those who are being marginalized within our communities in order to, as people like to say figuratively, pull them up from their bootstraps,” Executive Director Charlene Walker told KYW Newsradio. “But the reality is we’re not giving them anything to pull themselves up by.”

Giving them a license to drive will, according to the letter, “increase public safety, help the state’s economy and increase the well-being of all families”. 

“We all understand that this is a humanity issue,” added Rabbi Larry Sernovitz, leader of the independent Nafshenu Congregation in Cherry Hill. “This is about how to do we see the other and how do we treat the other. And the Jewish Community for one has been the other for centuries.”

The effort is also supported by several community organizations and labor unions across the state.

The letter was sent to Gov. Phil Murphy, Senate President Steve Sweeney and Assembly Speaker Craig Coughlin. The legislation was introduced last December but has yet to be acted on in either chamber.