Media Mobilizing Project and the Fight for Driver’s Licenses
“Driver’s licenses are a human rights issue,” says Desi Burnette, an organizer with Media Mobilizing Project.“Not only because of mobility, but also because they allow people to get to work or access health care. For many immigrants, these needs can be met only by being able to drive.”
Last January, Media Mobilizing Project received a Latino Organizing Fund grant for a campaign called Fight for Driver’s Licenses. The grant made it possible for the campaign to expand beyond Philadelphia and establish immigrant organizing committees in Harrisburg and Easton. In May 2013, activists from all three cities converged on the state legislature, drawing the attention of several representatives.
The effort resulted in the introduction of HB 1648, a bill that would enable undocumented immigrants to obtain state-issued licenses and access the opportunities associated with them.
“Representative Mark Cohen not only agreed to sponsor the bill but also let us write it,” Burnette explains. “So we were able to write it so that immigrants get the same licenses as everyone else and don’t have to reveal that they are undocumented.”
Now that the bill has been introduced, Fight for Driver’s Licenses will focus on supporting the legislation and continuing to increase the campaign’s membership.
“We formed a statewide council in December,” says Burnette, “and this spring we’re connecting with folks in cities like Hazelton, Wilkes-Barre, and Norristown. We’ve come a long way, but we’re focused on expanding even more.”