Lawmakers Agree To Study Migrant Driver’s Licenses

03/21/12 7:04AM By Samantha Fields

The legislature has been studying a bill that would grant driver's licenses to migrant workers, regardless of their immigration status.

An estimated 1,500 to 2,000 migrant workers are employed on Vermont's dairy farms.

Most of them are from Mexico and Guatemala. Once they arrive, the workers are often isolated on the farms, without access to transportation.

Senator Philip Baruth is on the agriculture committee, which took testimony on the bill. 

(Baruth) "The more the committee considered the problem, the more we stripped it down to mobility. So, giving people the ability to drive, solves 7 or 8 problems at once."

Supporters say those problems include things like access to health care and the grocery store, as well as the ability to leave the farm if working conditions are bad.

Senator Randy Brock says the state should not be issuing state IDs to people who are in the country illegally.

(Brock) "Vermont is not the federal government. And I think that we sometimes forget in Vermont, as we attempt to nullify law after law after law, that we do in fact live in the USA, and as such, I believe we are bound to follow all of the laws, including federal laws".

Instead of taking up the license bill this session, legislators have decided to study the issue of how, and whether, to allow migrant workers to get licenses. The bill is likely to come up again next session.

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vermont_legislature migrant_farmworkers
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