Virginia Prepares to Grant Driver's Licenses to Illegal Aliens

In the Senate of Virginia's 2019 session, a proposal to create new ‘driver privilege cards’ for illegal aliens who reside in Virginia failed to advance beyond the Transportation committee.

The bill was sponsored by Senator Jennifer Boysko, a Democrat from Virginia's 33rd Senate district, which is split between Loudoun and Fairfax Counties in the suburbs of Washington D.C. The proposal was turned down in a party-line vote, in a Senate of Virginia controlled by a slim Republican Party majority of 21 to 19.

As a result of the 2019 elections, both houses in the Virginia General Assembly will flip in 2020 from Republican to Democratic Party majorities. Governor Ralph Northam is also a Democrat. With greatly improved chances for success, almost-identical legislation has been introduced in the Senate of Virginia for the 2020 session.

Virginia Senate Bill 34: ‘Driver privilege cards; penalty.’

The bill is sponsored by Senator Scott Surovell, a Democrat from Virginia's 36th Senate district, which lies directly across the Potomac River from the state of Maryland. Surovell says Hispanic voters make up one out of every four of his constituents, and they have been pushing for driver’s licenses for the undocumented community.

The legislation would authorize the issuance of a new class of driver's license called ‘driver privilege cards’ to applicants who (a) have reported income from Virginia sources on a state tax return; (b) are not in violation of insurance requirements for a motor vehicle registration; and (c) provide a valid passport as proof of identity.

The new cards would differ from standard driver's licenses in that they wouldn't confer voting privileges, permit a person to waive any part of the driver examination, or require proof of legal presence in the United States.

Update: Bills granting driver's licenses to illegals were approved by both chambers of the Virginia General Assembly

Since being introduced, SB-34 has been referred to the Committee on Transportation, referred to the Committee on Finance and Appropriations, and had its second reading. On February 7, the bill was “engrossed” by the Senate, meaning that it has advanced to its third reading, with any amendments that were adopted in committee. On the third reading, Virginia Senate bills are either passed or defeated.

House Bill 1211 removes the citizenship and legal presence requirements in Virginia for obtaining a driver's license or a special identification card. It was introduced in the Virginia House of Delegates by Kathy K.L. Tran, a Democrat who represents parts of Mt. Vernon, Lorton, Springfield, and Fairfax Station. Kathy Tran is the child of Vietnamese boat refugees who fled when she was just seven months old. Tran introduced similar legislation that died in subcommittee last year, when a Republican majority still prevailed.

As of February 9, HB-1211 advanced through the Committee on Transportation and the Committee on Appropriations, and had its first reading.

On February 11, the SB-34 was passed by the Senate on a vote of 22-18, and HB-1211 was passed by the House on a vote of 57-42.

If signed by the Governor, the bills would go into effect on January 1, 2021.