Blackburn’s Legislation Will Stop Greenlighting Driver Licenses for Illegal Immigrants

January 28, 2021

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Marsha Blackburn (R—Tenn.), along with Senators Tom Cotton (R— Ark.), Ted Cruz (R—Texas), Joni Ernst (R—Iowa), Steve Daines (R—Mont.), Jim Inhofe (R—Okla.), and Mike Braun (R— Ind.), introduced legislation to block certain federal funds to sanctuary states, including those that allow illegal aliens to get driver licenses without proof of lawful presence. Congressman Ken Buck (CO-04) will be introducing companion legislation in the House of Representatives.


“No town in America is secure from criminals and terrorists if our borders aren’t policed and federal immigration laws aren’t fully enforced,” said Senator Blackburn. “This country is governed by the rule of law. We should not reward illegal aliens with driver licenses when they fail to follow the proper legal process.”


“We shouldn’t legitimize those who break our immigration laws by giving them driver licenses,” said Senator Cotton. “Unfortunately, states like California give illegal immigrants driver licenses and help them hide from federal law. Our bill will make sure that federal grants will only go to states who uphold our rule of law.”


“Failure to enforce our immigration laws in America makes a mockery of the rule of law,” said Senator Cruz. “We should not grant millions of dollars to states that threaten our national security and willfully ignore federal immigration law by granting drivers licenses to illegal immigrants. I am proud to support this legislation to hold states accountable for dangerous sanctuary laws.”  


“To keep folks in Iowa and across the country safe, it’s critical that our immigration laws are enforced and that our state and local governments are working with immigration enforcement officials to do so,” said Senator Ernst. “This bill will ensure we are working together, at all levels of government, to get criminals off the streets, to protect our nation, and to keep our communities safe.”


"Sanctuary jurisdictions are incentivizing criminals to invade our cities, and our citizens are paying the price,” said Senator Daines. “Any state that issues driver licenses and withholds information from the Department of Homeland Security should not receive federal funding.”


“Too often, sanctuary city policies go beyond poor immigration enforcement with many jurisdictions actually granting the privileges of citizenship to aliens who are here illegally,” said Sen. Inhofe. “Providing drivers licenses to illegal immigrants has real public safety and national security implications – especially when it comes to background checks – so I am glad to cosponsor Sen. Blackburn’s commonsense bill today which would withhold certain federal grants to states that allow illegal immigrants access to drivers licenses,” Inhofe said. “As this administration attempts to undo all of the work we have done the past four years to secure our borders, we must keep fighting to keep American families safe.”


“Illegal immigrants should not be granted driver licenses in any state,” said Senator Mike Braun. “It’s a threat to national security, complicates the already extremely challenging work of immigration enforcement, and is an affront those who come to America the right way in accordance with the law.”


“My home state of Colorado has its own green-light sanctuary law on the books, which led to the senseless death of Sean Buchanan. Sean was a loving father of five from Colorado Springs who was struck and killed by an illegal immigrant who was driving under a suspended state-issued driver license,” said Rep. Ken Buck. “Sean’s death was completely preventable, and we cannot reward criminal behavior by allowing states to provide sanctuary to illegal immigrants. Thank you, Senator Blackburn for your leadership on this bill in the Senate.”


"The granting of driver's licenses to illegal aliens represents nothing short of State approval of illegal immigration,” said Chris Chmielenski, Deputy Director, NumbersUSA. “This directly undermines the Federal effort to end illegal immigration by rewarding those who violate our immigration laws, driving border surges and encouraging those who arrived on temporary visas to violate their terms of entry and stay forever. To go further and shield criminal aliens from Federal immigration enforcement is a direct assault on the rule of law. States that reward the violation of Federal immigration law and actively hinder its enforcement shouldn't expect millions in Federal law enforcement grants each year. NumbersUSA applauds Senator Blackburn and Congressman Buck for introducing legislation that would put an end to this nonsense."


"Taxpayer dollars should not go to states that assist illegal immigrants in evading the law by issuing driver's licenses to them,” said Jessica Anderson, Executive Director, Heritage Action for America. “I applaud Congressman Buck and Senator Blackburn for standing up for safety, security, and the rule of law in America." 



The Stop Greenlighting Driver Licenses for Illegal Immigrants Act halts certain Department of Justice grant funding to states that defy federal immigration law. Non-complying states will no longer enjoy access to millions of dollars in funding under the Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grant (JAG) Program. The JAG program provides substantial support on a yearly basis to states for local law enforcement and criminal justice initiatives. In FY 2020, states that issued driver licenses to illegal immigrants received over $53 million from this program. This law will require states that issue driver licenses to illegal aliens or states that fail to share immigration enforcement information with the DHS to return unallocated funds to the JAG program within 30 days. Further, these states will be ineligible to receive future JAG funds until they comply with the driver license and federal information sharing provisions.


The REAL ID Act was passed in the wake of 9/11, after the terrorist hijackers easily obtained state driver licenses allowing them to board planes to launch their deadly attacks. Now, less than 20 years later, over a dozen states are already working to reverse efforts to ensure identification security. Some state laws, like California’s law and New York’s Green Light Law, go further than providing driver licenses to illegal aliens. Many of these sanctuary states also forbid local authorities from transferring information about potentially dangerous criminal aliens to DHS. In New York City, a 92-year-old woman was sexually assaulted and brutally murdered by an illegal alien who was released from custody, despite being subject to a federal detainer—due to Mayor Bill de Blasio’s lax sanctuary city policy.