“What good does it do you when other people are fearful for their lives and their wellbeing?”
Representative Alice Mann, a Lakeville physician and Brazilian-American who immigrated to Minnesota as a child, posed that question to opponents to HF 1500, which would allow Minnesotans to apply for drivers licenses regardless of their legal status in the U.S.
This legislation matters for a few reasons. First, safety. When all people who are living, working, and raising families in Minnesota can learn traffic rules, take a driving test, and earn a license, our roads are safer for everyone. Plus, it would provide some peace of mind for immigrant Minnesotans, who would be able to get around, drive their kids to school, and go to the grocery store without fear of arrest or deportation.
Businesses support it. Faith leaders support it. Local law enforcement agencies support it. Immigrant communities support it. Sounds like a win-win, right? The bill garnered bipartisan support, but not without some vocal (and extremely cringey) opposition from Republicans, who took the opportunity to push their divisive, fearful rhetoric.
One of those Republicans was Representative Steve Drazkowski, who, after bullying several first-year representatives and sassing the House Speaker, posed a fear mongering question to Representative Mann.
Turns out, he messed with the wrong Representative.
Representative Mann’s powerful, emotional testimony reflects the sentiments of so many Minnesotans, whether they were born here or somewhere far away, and makes the case for why this legislation matters.