Advocacy In Philadelphia

BACKGROUND:
• Since April of 2016, the Sisters of Saint Joseph have supported the Driver’s Licenses for All Campaign in Pennsylvania. This campaign was started in 2014 by the New Sanctuary Movement.

• The charism and mission of the Sisters of Saint Joseph are committed to the Gospel imperative of active, inclusive love. Attentive to the needs of Earth and the global community we vow to engage with courage and vigilance in personal and public advocacy for systemic change.

• In supporting the campaign for unmarked driver’s licenses for undocumented Pennsylvanians the Sisters of St. Joseph joined with organizations, unions, businesses, religious institutions, and public officials to publicly endorse this campaign.

UPDATES:
In the Summer of 2014 New Sanctuary Movement held one-on-one conversations with over 200 immigrants in Philadelphia. This “Listening” Campaign revealed that failure to obtain a driver’s license was one of the most prominent issues that immigrants face to improve their lives.
Reasons given included the right to mobility for work, education, health care and accessible housing.
Economic issues included difficulty transporting their children to school, finding, and keeping a job, and affordable housing.
Dignity and mental well being that come with Freedom of Movement was also established as a human basic need. Being denied this basic need was and is a daily fear that immigrants face.

Sisters of Saint Joseph Support:
In 2015 the SSJ answered the call of the NSM to support the Driver’s Licenses for all Campaign in PA
SSJ participated in preparing for the trips to South Philadelphia and Harrisburg by writing letters in support of providing driver’s licenses to undocumented Pennsylvanians.
In addition, the SSJ signed on to the PA Clergy and Women Religious Statement in Support of the Death Penalty Moratorium.
Several sisters sent written testimony for the driver’s license campaign distributed to statement representatives in PA.
The SSJ continue to support the NSM is this important campaign and other issues that fulfill the continued mission of the Sisters of Saint Joseph congregation.

House Bill 279 Current Status:
House Bill 279 was introduced on January 27, 2021. This bill was an Act amending Title 75 of the PA Consolidated Statues in licensing of driver’s applications or learners permits. The bill is sponsored by Representative Danilo Burgos from Philadelphia.
HB 279 will allow residents of PA to legally obtain a driver’s license with a Tax ID Number, or ITTN, a federally issued ID used to pay taxes for those who do not have a social security number.
Although the process of bill HB 279 has been a slow process, currently the bill is in consideration before the PA Transportation Committee.
On August 11, 2022, a hearing was called in Harrisburg to discuss this bill. A vote within the committee is essential for the bill to get through the whole house. This hearing will consider whether the state of PA should authorize drivers’ licenses for all regardless of citizenship or immigration status.
To date the bill’s cosponsors are mostly Democrats, there are also two Republicans who do support the bill.

Learn More About the Driver’s Licenses for All Campaign:
PA House Video on this Bill:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZCfX0WOZd10

Resources:
Driving PA Forward