After more than a decade of advocacy, REACH Beyond Domestic Violence and Latinas Know Your Rights celebrated the long-awaited signing of the Work and Family Mobility Act (WFMA) passed on May 26, 2022. The commonsense WFMA bill allows drivers, regardless of immigration status, to obtain a driver's license and car insurance to increase safe mobility, while also improving road safety for everyone in Massachusetts. Passing WFMA helps immigrant survivors of domestic violence access supportive resources such as REACH or medical care, increase their employment and educational opportunities, and support their safety. In short, the WFMA can help save lives.
Participants from Latinas Know Your Rights have ardently supported the passing of this bill by courageously sharing their stories at the State House. Survivors bravely spoke about how having a driver's license would make their lives safer – making it more possible to escape violent and dangerous situations. Although the WFMA was passed with resounding support, sadly, our victory is now at risk.
In an attempt to overturn the WFMA, an opposition group has qualified for placement of a question on the November 8, 2022 State Election Ballot. This means that, on the upcoming ballot, the approval of the WFMA will be called into question. Specifically, Question 4 asks, “Do you approve of [the Work and Family Mobility Act], which was approved by the House of Representatives and the Senate on May 26, 2022?”.
It is devastating to see this question on the ballot after the diligent, brave, and painstaking work survivors, law enforcement, labor unions, immigrants’ rights groups, and the general community have put into passing the WFMA. The question threatens to revoke a law, passed by the State Legislature, that allows immigrants without status to make essential trips like taking their children to school, driving to work, getting to medical appointments, or in the case of victims of domestic violence – safely escaping violent situations. Regardless of immigration status, the passing of this law affects us all.
Driving is essential to mobility in Massachusetts, especially outside of Greater Boston, because public transit options are far too limited. According to the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), 78% of Massachusetts workers aged 16 and older get to work by car, truck or van and in Suffolk County, 48% of people rely on personal vehicles (ACLU, 2019). Voting YES ON 4 this November means every driver on the road will have the proper tools to drive safely. The roads of Massachusetts will be safer with a YES ON 4 because all qualified drivers will have passed a road test, meaning they will better understand road safety and regulations, and possess proper insurance for their car.
The benefits of the WFMA and a vote of YES ON 4 are undeniable. States from California to Connecticut have already seen significantly fewer hit-and-run crashes since implementation of similar laws. Utah and New Mexico have seen uninsured driving drop 80 and 60 percent, respectively. As if road safety weren’t enough, within the first three years alone, voting YES ON 4 will also bring the Commonwealth of Massachusetts a projected additional $5 million from taxes and $6 million from fees, inspections and other related services. In the wise words of Lawrence Chief of Police Roy Vasque, President of the Massachusetts Major Cities Chief of Police Association, “Voting YES ON 4 is just common sense: all of us will be safer if all drivers on the road pass a driving test, have insurance and have a license. Everyone needs to get to work and get to school, so let’s do everything we can to get people where they’re going safely.”
There are endless reasons why voting YES ON 4 makes sense and is the right decision. Voting YES ON 4 will provide survivors with peace of mind knowing they will be able to safely escape dangerous situations or commute in order to provide for their families. On November 8, help ensure that Massachusetts joins the 16 other states that have already successfully passed and implemented similar laws. Let’s continue moving toward safer roads by keeping the Work and Family Mobility Act in place with a YES Vote on Question 4!