Mass. Gov. asks for change in ID provision in budget
BOSTON: Gov. Deval Patrick has asked the Legislature to amend a state budget provision that would require anyone seeking to register a car in Massachusetts to provide proof of legal U.S. residency, calling the measure “overbroad.”
Patrick, in a message sent to lawmakers, said he would not go along with efforts to compel state authorities to enforce U.S. immigration laws.
“The recent ruling by the United States Supreme Court, striking down most of Arizona’s anti-immigrant law, underscores the importance of states treading lightly in this federal space,” the governor wrote.
Patrick did not veto the provision outright, but instead asked lawmakers to consider an amended version. While the bulk of the revised language in the amendment was the same, a key change would remove the phrase “proof of legal residence” and replace it with “proof of residence in the Commonwealth.”
The provision approved by the Legislature and the governor’s proposed amendment would allow applicants for a motor vehicle or trailer registration to present a driver’s license, identification card or Social Security number to the Registry of Motor Vehicles. Both would also allow the RMV to grant exemptions for out-of-state college students, military personnel, senior citizens and disabled persons.
Advocates for immigrants had urged Patrick to veto the provision and several others attached to the fiscal 2013 budget, including increased penalties for driving without a license or knowingly allowing an unlicensed driver to operate a motor vehicle.
The governor approved those other provisions, saying that while they appeared to be motivated by “efforts to regulate the activities of undocumented people in Massachusetts,” they were “race and ethnic neutral” and would benefit public safety.
Patrick also signed off on a measure establishing a new crime for trafficking in counterfeit licenses or identification cards. -AP