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Springfield RMV ready to help undocumented immigrants applying for driver's licenses

 The RMV in Springfield, Mass. has hired additional staff to implement the Work and Family Mobility Act.
Elizabeth Román
/
NEPM
The RMV in Springfield, Mass. has hired additional staff to implement the Work and Family Mobility Act.

Para leer este articulo en español haga clic aqui.

A new state law known as the Work and Family Mobility Act went into effect in Massachusetts on July 1. It allows immigrants without legal status in the U.S. to apply for a driver's license.

At the Springfield Registry of Motor Vehicles Monday a long line of people waited to get more information on the documentation they will need to apply. Some were even ready to set up road tests.

Jay DiLisio is the assistant registrar of RMV service centers across the state and was on-hand in Springfield to help answer anyone with questions and to assure them their information will be protected.

"We went through the training and everyone's really well versed and understands that we're not sharing this information," he said. "So when people come here, there's a trust. And that trust is really important to us, with all of our customers, especially this new population."

DiLisio said RMVs across the state have hired additional staff in anticipation of larger crowds at each of the service centers in the next few months.

"We've increased staffing by a good amount in order to be able to meet the extra demand because we want to make sure that we have people well trained and ready to go to take care of our new customers," he said.

Outside the RMV several people wearing bright orange shirts helped prospective applicants as they approached the RMV. A booth with paperwork in various languages including Spanish and Portuguese encouraged undocumented immigrants to ask questions and get help setting up their appointment for a road test.

Zaida Luna is with the Driving Families Forward Coalition. Sporting an orange shirt and carrying a handful of pamphlets, the longtime community activist greeted people as they got in line.

"We want them to feel comfortable to ask questions and not be afraid that they're going to get in trouble," she said.

Luna said part of the coalition's goal is to do outreach at local churches, grocery stores and community events where undocumented immigrants gather in order to give them information on how to apply.

"A lot of people don't know about this. So we want to make sure everybody's knows what's going on," Luna said.

There are several steps people must take before they show up at an RMV, including having the right documentation and registering for an appointment on Mass.gov/MyRMV.

DiLisio said it has been impactful to meet people coming in to apply.

"We have had several come in today, and tell us their stories. It's just so heartwarming and you hear what it means to them and how it's going to impact their lives. And it's just really wonderful to know that we're here helping this new population be able to obtain a standard driver's license," he said.

Officials expect about 100,000 undocumented immigrants to apply for a driver’s license.

Corrected: July 10, 2023 at 4:21 PM EDT
Zaida Luna was representing Archipelago Strategies Group at the Springfield RMV welcoming table. Due to a reporter error she was identified as a member of the Driving Families Forward Coalition.
Elizabeth Román edits daily news stories at NEPM as managing editor. She is working to expand the diversity of sources in our news coverage and is also exploring ways to create more Spanish-language news content.