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Massachusetts Senate OKs immigrant driver's license bill

Protesters outside of the Massachusetts State House advocate for driver's licenses for undocumented immigrants (Tibisay Zea/El Planeta)
Protesters outside of the Massachusetts State House advocate for driver's licenses for undocumented immigrants (Tibisay Zea/El Planeta)

The Massachusetts Senate approved a bill Thursday that would allow immigrants in the country illegally to obtain state driver’s licenses, moving the proposed change one step closer to becoming law.

If passed into law, Massachusetts would join 16 other states, and the District of Columbia, that already have similar laws.

The bill was approved 32-8 in the Democratic-controlled chamber. That’s enough to override a possible veto from Republican Gov. Charlie Baker, who has expressed opposition to similar efforts in the past.

Democratic Sen. President Karen Spilka said that those in the country illegally “deserve to be able to safely get to work and school, care for their families and participate in the lives of their communities.”

The bill passed by the Senate is nearly identical to the version that previously passed the House of Representatives this year, also by a wide enough margin to withstand a Baker veto.

Supporters of the measure gathered outside the Statehouse on Thursday to press senators to pass the bill.

The legislation now moves back to the House to reconcile small differences with the Senate.

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