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Immigration

New Cambridge, Mass. Law Bars Police from Arresting Undocumented Immigrants for Driving Without a License

A taxi driver waiting in traffic (Marko Djurica/Reuters)

Undocumented immigrants will not be arrested for driving without a license under a new Cambridge, Mass. law aimed at protecting those illegally residing in the country from the grasp of the federal government.

The new law, passed unanimously by the city legislature, directs police in Cambridge to issue a court summons to an undocumented individual driving without a license instead of arresting them, although the driver may be arrested for other legal complications, such as active or outstanding warrants. The law also prohibits officers from asking a person’s immigration status, a move intended to prevent Immigration and Customs Enforcement from getting wind of the arrest and deporting them.

The policy of issuing a court summons in place of an arrest was already in practice, but it will now be codified for the sanctuary city, which boasts both Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

“We need to protect our community members from a federal government that’s out of control,” Cambridge City Councilor Quinton Zondervan explained. “There are no other reasons for the police to arrest someone, give them a court summons instead which keeps them out of the clutches of the Trump administration.”

Massachusetts requires applicants for a driver’s license to be legal U.S. residents, unlike 15 other states and Washington, D.C., which no longer have that requirement. Critics of such a requirement argue it makes roads less safe since undocumented immigrants still need to drive even if they are not allowed to take the driving test and obtain a license.

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