For many New Jersey young people, getting a driver’s license is a critical on-ramp to their road to success. With 420,000 college students statewide but dormitories less than half of all campuses, ours is a state where access to educational opportunity for hundreds of thousands of students can depend on being able to drive to school. But current licensing regulations are a major roadblock for nearly half a million New Jersey residents who cannot access a driver’s license because they are undocumented.
Out of New Jersey’s 100,000 young dreamers, only 17,400 currently benefit from the access provided under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), a federal program that is now not available to new applicants. We need to make driver’s licenses accessible to all our aspiring students as the proposed Assembly Bill 4743/Senate Bill 3229 would do.
New Jersey has made tangible progress in supporting our N.J. dreamers with state laws making undocumented students eligible for in-state tuition and state financial help, but the inability to drive remains a significant obstacle preventing many from reaching their full potential.
We have long recognized that young immigrants are as much a part of New Jersey as any other child raised here. They go to our schools, play sports and participate in after-school activities, and volunteer in our communities. Since the announcement of DACA, six and a half years ago, dreamers have made powerful contributions to our nation and they can contribute so much more when they can fully access higher education and career opportunities.
NJ.Com Feb 12, 2019