COPAL is part of the Freedom to Drive campaign. Learn more here!

Our Coalition

COPAL is part of the Freedom to Drive campaign and is committed to passing a state law allowing all Minnesotans, regardless of immigration status, to obtain drivers' licenses. The Freedom to Drive: Minnesota Driver's Licenses for all is a statewide coalition of non-profit organizations, unions, immigrants' rights advocates, community-based groups and collectives, faith-based organizations, workers' rights advocates, and businesses led by the Multiracial Coalition on Immigration.

Advocating for driver's licenses for all is something we have been doing for years now - since before we came together to form COPAL. Below you can see the timeline of events, and the repeated attempts that have been made for passing a driver's license for all bill.

Our Bill

The regulation over the distribution of driver's license is a state-level function. In most states the right to obtain and renew driver's licences is only given to U.S. citizens and lawful immigrants. However, state legislative activity has risen around this issue all throughout the country, and different jurisdictions have begun issuing driver's licenses to undocumented immigrants in the United States.

Today, there are a total of 12 states plus the District of Columbia that allow undocumented immigrants to obtain a driver’s license. These 12 states include California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Maryland, New Mexico, Nevada, Utah, Vermont and Washington. These jurisdictions have passed legislation that explicitly allows undocumented immigrants to have drivers’ licenses, where other states have failed to do so.

Our coalition hopes to pass similar legislation in Minnesota, and this is why we have introduced a new bill in the MN House for the 91st Legislature, and will soon be introducing a similar bill in the MN Senate. Follow the status of the bill below, join our efforts by volunteering with COPAL, and email us at RicoD@copalmn.org if you have any questions.

The Benefits

Minnesota values safe roads where all drivers are licensed and insured. H.F. 1500 helps achieve that goal by allowing everyone to apply for a driver’s license, regardless of immigration status. The bill allows applicants to use a foreign-issued passport and foreign birth certificate, translated into English, as proof of identity. Applicants must also prove residency and pass the written and driving tests to receive a license, requirements that would be unchanged from current law.

Being able to apply for a driver's license brings a number of benefits to all Minnesotans. Here are some of them:

• Everyone applying for a license will be required to take the state-mandated driving tests, ensuring that all drivers know Minnesota's driving regulations.
• Everyone will have access to car insurance, reducing the number of uninsured motorists, which also reduces insurance rates for all Minnesotans.
• Our roads are safer for all Minnesotans when everyone is a licensed, insured driver.

• Everyone will now have accurate state-issued identification, allowing police to know exactly who they encounter.
• Crime victims and witnesses will be more willing to come forward knowing they are not at risk of questioning or arrest for lacking valid identification documents.
• Driver's licenses for all is in line with the priorities of local law enforcement agencies.

• Minnesota businesses support driver's licenses for all as a way to build an economically vibrant Minnesota.
• Access to driver's licenses will help increase immigrants' contributions to Minnesota's economy as consumers, taxpayers, and employees.

• Having a driver's license will allow people to access basic resources such as: renting an apartment, opening a bank account, paying bills, and borrowing library books.
• Parents will be able to drive their children and other dependents to school, church, doctor appointments, and other activities.

• Immigrants are important part of the population in rural Minnesota, helping strengthen the economy, revitalize communities, and contribute to the tax base.
• Lack of public transit networks in some rural communities means that people without a driver's license lack any effective alternative form of transportation.

Driver's Licenses Timeline in Minnesota

2020

2020

Passing through security at the airport during domestic travel requires acceptable identification documents. The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has designated several acceptable forms of…

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2019

2019

Minnesota House lawmakers on Thursday introduced a plan to allow undocumented Minnesota residents to get drivers licenses. Business leaders, clergy, some in the law enforcement…

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2018

2018

The Minneapolis City Council approved a new ordinance that establishes a framework for developing a City of Minneapolis identification card program. The City’s 2019 City…

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2017

2017

In 2017, Senate Majority Leader Paul Gazelka, R-Nisswa, successfully led opposition to a move by Democrats to tie immigrant driver’s licenses to a measure to…

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2015

2015

A new coalition, Minnesota’s One State, One License coalition got an early start in 2015, rallying at the legislature on the session’s opening day. The…

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2013

2013

Mesa Latina spearheaded the 2013 to change the current rule and expand the Minnesota driver’s license program to allow undocumented drivers to apply for a…

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2010

2010

In 2010, Representative Clark (D) introduced HF1718 which would have expanded the list of primary documents that an applicant could use to prove his/her identity…

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2008

2008

Due to the detrimental impact the new rule has had since 2003 on our families and public safety in our state, many individuals and organizations…

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2005

2005

The REAL ID Act  In 2005, U.S. Congress enacted the REAL ID Act upon recommendation of the 9/11 Commission to set standards for the issuance…

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2003

2003

Prior to 2003, persons without lawful immigration status were able to apply for and obtain a valid Minnesota driver’s license. It was not until 2003…

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