Migrant farm workers need ID, drivers’ licenses

DUMMERSTON — The Legislature is taking up a bill to make drivers' licenses and identification cards available for all Vermont residents.

This is important, because a driver's license provides essential mobility in our rural state to fulfill fundamental human needs and rights to access health care, food, transportation, housing, socializing, and work.

Currently, many undocumented migrant workers are not able to get a driver's license. Farmers rely on migrant workers to produce our dairy products, fruits, and vegetables. Both farmers and their workers would benefit from the workers being able to provide their own transportation.

Migrant farm workers have raised this as their No. 1 issue for the quality of their life in Vermont. Here a few of their comments:

• “To feel free and like I'm not in a jail.”

• “To demonstrate that I am equal to everyone else, that I, too, need to go to the store or go to the hospital without waiting until someone else drives me or charges me a lot of money.”

• “Hard work deserves respect; all people deserve respect. We live like this because the system is broken, and the time has come to change this.”

No federal laws prohibit states from granting access to drivers' licenses and, in fact, New Mexico and Washington have passed such legislation.

Let's make Vermont the third state to do so!

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