BOSTON, Mass. (WWLP) — Next time you register your car, new regulations proposed by the Registry of Motor Vehicles will require you to prove your legal residency. In July, immigrant groups protested this measure and the governor vetoed it. The Legislature eventually overrode the governor’s veto.
“Back when the statute was being debated, we were concerned that it would be interpreted in a way that would require the state to get involved in federal immigration law and property discrimination,” said Shannon Erwin, the state policy director at the Massachusetts Immigrant and Refugee Advocacy Coalition.
But regulators have broadly interpreted the law so you can register your car by showing your driver’s license, state-issued ID card, social security number, OR proof of residence, like a utility bill. Immigrant groups are pleased with the regulations, but lawmakers say the latter provision makes them too weak.
“It falls short of requiring legal residence in the way that the Legislature intended when it passed this law,” said Sen. Bruce Tarr (R-Gloucester). “[It] opens the door for an incredible loophole that folks can take advantage of with things like utility bills, cell phone bills, things that really don’t guarantee that someone’s residing in this country legally.”
The law was passed in response to high profile car accidents involving undocumented immigrants. The RMV and state Department of Transportation are accepting comments to their draft regulations for another week.
“The Registry of Motor Vehicles and MassDOT have been working to interpret that law to make sure that it is fair for all parties and does not violate any rights of immigrant communities,” said Mass DOT Spokesperson Sara Lavoie.
You can comment on the regulations at www.mass.gov/rmv until December 28th.
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