Homeland Security says NJ driver’s licenses-for-all law puts ‘people at risk’
New Jersey's recently approved driver's license system that will soon allow immigrants living in the country illegally to obtain a special license for driving is being scrutinized by federal authorities who said that it threatens national security.
"The Trump Administration takes the mission of protecting the Homeland very seriously, and unfortunately more than a dozen states have adopted short-sighted policies that endanger our communities and put people at risk," federal Department of Homeland Security spokeswoman Heather Swift said Monday in a written statement to New Jersey 101.5.
In a Dec. 30 memo, Acting DHS Secretary Chad Wolf announced an assessment of state laws that impact cooperation with federal law enforcement. Wolf mentioned that 11 days earlier, "the Governor of New Jersey signed a law that places similar restrictions on the sharing of DMV information with federal immigration authorities."
Under the new law, information submitted in an application for New Jersey's new standard license could not be shared with the federal government without a court order. And, unlike with the Real ID-compliant licenses, copies of the documents provided would not be retained by the state.
"These types of laws make it easier for terrorists and criminals to obtain fraudulent documents and also prevent DHS investigators from accessing important records that help take down child pornography and human trafficking rings and combat everything from terrorism to drug smuggling," Swift said in the Monday statement.
Wolf called for DHS agents and officers to review similar state laws and offer recommended courses of action by Jan. 15.
Speaking at an event in Washington Township in Warren County on Wednesday, Gov. Phil Murphy said allowing unauthorized immigrants to get a driver’s license will not pose any kind of security threat.
“Is it better for them (immigrants), clearly. It’s better for all of us. The facts are on our side and not on their side (the Trump administration). They’re just wrong,” he said.
“The more that folks can come out of the shadows and be in the sunlight, engage their neighbors, their faith leaders, their elected officials and, most importantly, law enforcement, you have a safer state for all 9 million of us.”
Murphy pointed out that New Jersey is not the first state to create this kind of license.
“The good news is we’ve got 13 or 14, plus the District of Colombia, to look at in terms of what’s actually happened, and the two things that have happened: the roads are safer and insurance premiums are down," he said.
Murphy said later this year a major public relations campaign will be launched in several different languages to inform people about the driver’s license law.
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