Nelson statement on Driver’s Licenses for All bill

Senator Carla Nelson
2 min readFeb 24, 2023

This week, the Minnesota Senate approved Senate File 27, also known as Driver’s Licenses for All, which would allow undocumented immigrants to obtain a Minnesota driver’s license.

Senator Carla Nelson (R-Rochester) issued the following statement:

“Our roads will be safer if all drivers are trained, licensed, and insured. And if that is all this bill did, it would have had bipartisan support. Unfortunately, there was no bipartisan work done to address concerns with the bill.

Many constituents contacted me about this bill. From those emails and conversations, it became clear that even though the concept was viewed positively, the specifics of this particular bill made people uneasy.

There are three main concerns:

  • First, these licenses will be identical to a standard license. There will be no markings or distinguishing text noting that it is for driving purposes only.
  • Second, accepting foreign documents will put DMVs in a difficult position. They will suddenly need to become experts at determining which foreign documents are valid and certified, and which are not.
  • Third, the federal REAL ID law will not take effect until 2025 at the earliest. Until then, these licenses could be used to access federal facilities such as nuclear plants and military bases.

Most immigrants who would get one of these licenses just want to live their lives. But these glaring loopholes could be exploited by individuals with bad intentions, and our first priority must be keeping Minnesotans safe.

What disappoints me is that we could have accomplished both — we could have provided a license to undocumented immigrants so they can safely and legally drive while closing the loopholes in this bill. But all of the attempts to fix the bill were rejected.

I support driver’s licenses for all in concept, and I have worked with a bipartisan working group to figure out a solution to this in the past. On balance, it is a good idea. But the bill we voted on this week was not the right way to get this done.