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9 Sep 2023
Michelle Watson,Ashley R. Williams

NextImg:Undocumented immigrants in Minnesota can apply for driver's licenses in October | CNN

CNN  — 

About 81,000 undocumented immigrants in Minnesota can begin applying for a driver’s license next month, according to the state Department of Public Safety.

Minnesota’s Driver’s License for All program launches October 1, the department announced at a news conference Thursday.

“We’ll be able to start taking applications for driver’s licenses for all Minnesotans, including those who don’t have lawful presence in the United States,” said Pong Xiong, director of the Minnesota Department of Public Safety Driver and Vehicle Services.

The state will “no longer require proof of legal presence” starting in October, the Minnesota Department of Public Safety said in a news release Tuesday.

Xiong said Thursday that he understands “how important it is to have a driver’s license and what that means to being able to access all of Minnesota’s resources from employment to medical care to … just enjoying all the natural resources that Minnesota has to offer.”

Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz, center, signs the Driver's Licenses for All bill on March 7.

Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz signed the bill allowing for the expansion of driver license applications in March, according to a release from his office.

“With an estimated 81,000 undocumented immigrants in Minnesota, the bill will increase safety across Minnesota by ensuring that all drivers are licensed, insured, and have taken driver’s education courses,” the March release stated.

At the time of the signing, the governor said the program “makes sure that our children and families can come out of the shadows and that all Minnesotans have opportunities to thrive, succeed, grow and live their fullest lives in our state.”

Minnesota has more undocumented immigrants than about half the numbers reported in other individual states and Washington, DC, and most of Minnesota’s undocumented immigrants come from Mexico and Central America, according to data from the Migration Policy Institute.

California has the largest population of undocumented immigrants in the US with more than 2.7 million, the institute reported.

The two states are among 19 as well as DC that have enacted laws allowing undocumented immigrants to obtain driver’s licenses, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.