NEW BEDFORD — Advocates for the region’s immigrant community are mobilizing to preserve the newly enacted immigrant driver’s license law.

Community leaders say they will go house to house in a campaign to convince residents about the benefits of the new law, which would take effect in July of 2023. The law would allow immigrants without legal status to apply for and obtain Massachusetts driver’s licenses if they meet several requirements. It was overwhelmingly approved by the state Senate and House; then vetoed by Gov. Charlie Baker; then enacted in June with a successful override of the governor’s veto.

An opposition group backed by Republican gubernatorial nominee Geoff Deihl collected enough signatures during the summer to place the measure on the Nov. 8 ballot, giving voters a chance to repeal the law.

Leaders of the immigrant advocacy group Movemiento Cosecha, called the tactics used by those gathering signatures “racist propaganda.”

News of the repeal effort caused some disappointment in New Bedford’s Latino community, but it also spurred advocates to take action. “We will go house to house talking to people,” said Rolando Oliva, leader of Movimiento Cosecha in New Bedford, hoping to convince residents to vote in favor of retaining the new law.

 Lea esta historia en español aquí. 

“We are not asking for the vote for candidates. We are asking for licenses,” Oliva said during a recent festival at New Bedford’s Riverside Park.

Gerardo Beltran Salinas is a Chilean journalist now living in greater New Bedford. He produces videos and stories on topics of interest to the region’s Spanish-speaking community.

Thank you to our sponsors

Founding benefactors: Irwin and Joan Jacobs, Mary and Jim Ottaway