Driving is a feminist issue.
Driving is necessary. It’s particularly necessary for Women. We need to move to get away from Men who abuse us, to relocate for Jobs or Education.
Driving is vital. Given the poor state of public transportation in many parts of the world (and Maryland in particular, with its emphasis on North-South routes, particularly in Baltimore), having a legal right to drive matters for Women.
Driving is no less a feminist issue in Maryland where, in 2009, in response to George W. Bush’s REAL ID law, Maryland announced that it would no longer renew driver’s licenses of Marylanders who have long held Maryland licenses if they could not prove their “legal” right to live in this country.
So, even though these folks had long held Maryland driver’s licenses without trouble or complaint, Maryland said “no more driving for you.”
Of course, this impacted all undocumented people, and the people who love them.
And it impacted Women.
Women like Karen. Karen is a mother who lives in Maryland’s 11th District in Baltimore County. She has a grandfathered drivers license that she will lose in 2015 under Maryland’s decision to follow Bush’s REAL ID. So even though she’s had a driver’s license for many, many years, because of the War on Undocumented Folks, she will lose it.
Women like Amalia. Amalia is a domestic worker in Montgomery County, working as a nanny. She will also lose her license in 2015. With it, she will lose her ability to travel for work. She will lose time and money. She will lose freedom.
Women like Andrea. Andrea is a U.S. citizen married to an undocumented man. Because he husband is undocumented, he cannot get a license, and must rely on Andrea to transport him.
Women like Jenniver. Jenniver is a single mom who lives in Essex, Maryland. She was in an abusive relationship with a man, and had to rely on strangers to drive her to doctors and lawyers appointments because she could not obtain a license.
Denying driver’s licenses to a person because of immigration status is a Feminist issue. Depriving Women of the ability to get from here to there is a Feminist issue.
House Bill 789 and Senate Bill 715 would fix this. The proposed legislation would allow the Maryland Motor Vehicle Administration to issue or renew a driver’s license, identification card, or moped operator’s permit to an individual who does not have a Social Security number or lawful status by repealing a current limitation that the individual must have held one of those documents on April 18, 2009. The bill also repeals the termination date of July 1, 2015, for the authority for MVA to issue or renew one of these documents to an applicant without lawful status or a Social Security number.
That means, if you had a grandfathered license, like Karen and Amalia, you can still drive. It also means that Women like Jenniver can get a license, and Women like Amalia wouldn’t have to drive their partners around anymore, thus freeing their energies towards other tasks.
If the legislation passes, Maryland would join a handful of states that allow licenses for undocumented immigrants. The Senate heard testimony of the legislation last week. The House hearing is March 13.