If we believe that immigrant lives matter, which we do, we must support policies that expand their rights.

As a result of years of collaborative efforts between grassroots community organizers and elected officials, Hawaii is now one signature away from extending driver’s licenses to its undocumented community members, as well as to those with the least power here: elderly folks, domestic violence survivors, and citizens and legal residents in poverty who lack proper documentation.

Expanded driver’s licenses will ensure that all people can drive legally in order to take care of their families and contribute to the state’s economy. It means safer roads, a stronger economy, and improved law enforcement.

For those arguing that House Bill 1007 is more than just about driving and safety: You are right— it is also about belonging and security. A number of young women led our efforts by bravely sharing their personal stories at the Legislature, describing the insecurity and trauma of living hidden from the law in order to survive.

Brake lights and traffic along Pensacola Street. 12 jan 2015. photograph Cory Lum/Civil Beat

The bill would make driver’s licenses available to various people who have ID issues.

Cory Lum/Civil Beat

Immigration has different contours in Hawaii. Many of us no longer identify as immigrants because our families came in more distant waves than our counterparts on the continental United States. But we must not forget what it took for our families to get to Hawaii.

We can enjoy what we have right now because of the sacrifice of our ancestors, who crossed oceans and deserted many dreams to give us a future here. We can acknowledge their experiences by enabling those contributing to our state, who continue to fight for the survival of their families, to live unafraid.

We are hopeful that Gov. David Ige will recognize our efforts by signing this measure into law and are grateful for the support of the Hawaii Department of Transportation, the licensing administrator for the City and County of Honolulu, the Hawaii Civil Rights Commission, and the Hawaii State Commission on the Status of Women, as well as many community organizations such as the ACLU, Hawaii Appleseed, Catholic Charities, and PHOCUSED.

We also thank the collaborative leadership of senators Will Espero and Gil Keith-Agaran and representatives Karl Rhoads and Henry Aquino in forwarding this important human rights legislation.

Community Voices aims to encourage broad discussion on many topics of community interest. It’s kind of a cross between Letters to the Editor and op-eds. This is your space to talk about important issues or interesting people who are making a difference in our world. Column lengths should be no more than 800 words and we need a current photo of the author and a bio. We welcome video commentary and other multimedia formats. Send to news@civilbeat.org. The opinions and information expressed in Community Voices are solely those of the authors and not Civil Beat.

About the Author