Shelton’s two state representatives voted against a bill that would require the state Department of Motor Vehicles to issue Connecticut driver’s licenses to illegal immigrants who reside in the state in violation of federal immigration laws.
The vote by state Reps. Jason Perillo and Larry Miller came at the conclusion of a seven-hour House debate that lasted through the night, ending at 5:45 a.m. on Thursday, May 23. The bill passed the House by 74-55 and now moves on to the state Senate for action there.
Perillo: Ramifications need to be studied
“This is a very real problem that I wish the legislature had approached with more attention to process,” said Perillo, a Republican. “Many of us on this side of the aisle, including myself, care deeply about this issue. However, we want to be sure we act properly.
“We really have no sense of what the costs of this will be, how many people it will impact, and whether or not it will lead to unintended consequences,” Perillo said. “This issue should be studied carefully, not implemented recklessly. This is not how we should be shaping public policy.”
Miller: Public safety concern
Miller, also a Republican, raised concerns about whether the proposed law requires enough proper documentation to get a driver’s license.
“There are very serious concerns many of us have with this bill and they have been inadequately addressed,” Miller said. “Producing emails and unverifiable foreign documents will now allow illegal residents to get driver’s licenses here. The documentation standards of opening a Verizon account are higher than that. This is a real public safety concern.”
He also asked about the cost of implementing the bill. “Last week the majority Democrats told us they couldn’t afford the $400,000 hole in the state budget eliminating a ‘death tax’ on failed business would cause, but here they are eager to spend $1.2 million on ensuring illegal immigrants have driver’s licenses issued by our state,” Miller said.
Amendments were defeated
Republicans introduced a number of amendments that were defeated on a partisan basis, according to a press release from the two Republican House members. One such amendment would have created a task force to study the process and procedure of granting such licenses, and would have allowed it to be implemented at an accelerated timeline after review.
Perillo and Miller said that among the many failings of the legislation is “an alarming lack of a mechanism” to validate where an individual is originally from, or where they currently reside.
They said it provides an incentive for out-of-state felons to move to Connecticut because there is no attempt to ascertain if there is any criminal record for the applicant outside the boundaries of Connecticut. It also allows unverifiable documents such as emails to suffice as valid forms of proving residence, they said.
Could Connecticut become a magnet?
There are an estimated 50,000 to 250,000 illegal aliens in Connecticut who might be made eligible for a state driver’s license under this legislation.
As Connecticut would be the only state on the East Coast to enact such a law, the Shelton legislators fear Connecticut could become a magnet for illegal aliens from across the country seeking to obtain this documentation because it would convey legitimacy upon them.
A poll in March of this year conducted by Quinnipiac University found that 65% of state residents opposed giving driver’s licenses to illegal immigrants, according to the release from the two Republicans.
Perillo represents the 113rd District, which includes most of Shelton. Miller represents the 122nd District, which includes parts of Shelton, Trumbull and Stratford.