Zupkus votes against licenses for undocumented immigrants

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Lezlye Zupkus
Lezlye Zupkus

HARTFORD — State Rep. Lezlye Zupkus (R-89) voted against legislation creating special drivers licenses for undocumented immigrants who have lived in the state for just 90 days.

According to a press release issued by Zupkus’ office, majority Democrats in rolled out a full version of the bill in the House late without the benefit of a public hearing and thorough committee scrutiny. The program begins Jan. 1, 2015, the release stated.

Zupkus said there are significant problems with the bill, including an inadequate background check process that makes no attempt to ascertain if the driver’s license applicant has a felony criminal record outside the boundaries of Connecticut.

“I just couldn’t vote for legislation that says we’ll offer a group of people access to driver’s licenses by a specific date when there are so many unanswered questions and very real concerns about how we’ll do it,” said Zupkus, who joined Republicans in a calling for creating a task force to provide analysis of the issue by January 2014. “There’s nothing we’d love more than to be part of the process to find a solution to this issue, but this bill and the at-any-cost process used to ram it through the House in the dead of night prevented that. There should have been a bipartisan approach for such important legislation that will have far-reaching impact on so many people. ”

The press release cited a spring Quinnipiac Poll that reported that 65 percent of respondents opposed licenses for undocumented immigrants.

Opponents of the legislation argue it will impose significant financial and staffing burdens on the state’s Department of Motor Vehicles, which would likely need extra personnel and resources to process the deluge of driver’s license applications anticipated by the bill’s advocates. The legislature’s budget-writing Appropriations Committee had yet to consider the concept before the vote, either, the release stated.

“We were forced to vote on this legislation without the concrete facts taxpayers would expect us to have,” Zupkus said in the release. “People I represent are sick of this ‘we’ll figure it out later’ approach.”

According to the release, Connecticut would be the only east coast state with this law, and seven states that previously granted driver’s licenses to undocumented immigrants have since repealed those laws.