Hundreds of immigrants gather in support of driving legislation - KFVS12 News & Weather Cape Girardeau, Carbondale, Poplar Bluff

Hundreds of immigrants gather in support of driving legislation

SPRINGFIELD, MA (WSHM) -

Hundreds of Springfield immigrants gathered Tuesday night to call attention to the Massachusetts Safe Driving Act - a bill that would allow undocumented immigrants to get drivers licenses without Social Security numbers.

According to U.S. Immigration Support, there are more than 900,000 immigrants in the state, many driving cars without licenses.

Supporters of the Massachusetts Safe Driving Act say that passing the bill would be safer for everyone.

More than 700 immigrants packed the All Souls Catholic Church in Springfield, often yelling out and clapping as others shared their stories.

"For us it's really important because we're fighting for complete immigrant reform," said Rosendo Santizo, who only speaks Spanish and was translated.

Santizo moved here from Guatemala nine years ago.

He took to the podium Tuesday night in the hopes of trying to get the Safe Driving Act passed.

"We want to be able to take our children to school and back and not have to worry about that, immigrants here want to participate, and want to pay taxes and want to have insurance," he said.

If passed, the bill would allow immigrants to obtain licenses without Social Security numbers.

Verne McArthur works with Pioneer Valley Project, a group committed to immigration reform that is trying to push the law forward.

"They need cars to get to work, to get to the doctor, to get to school," he said.

The bill would require immigrants to pass driving exams and hold liability insurance.

"This is not some special case or special dispensation, but it's in the interest of everybody to have safe roads," McArthur said.

Santizo says he will continue to be a voice for the immigrant community until he sees the legislation passed.

"I'm speaking for many people that do have children and are afraid because they've taken their kids to school and they've been deported, they've been arrested and it's splitting up families," he said.

Other states have passed similar reforms and have reported a decrease in uninsured drivers.

Supporters of this legislation here in Massachusetts say they have set up meetings with local legislators over the next two weeks to discuss the bill.

Copyright 2013 WSHM (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.

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