This message was sent to our Friends of CASA via email on February 9, 2021. Stay connected and up to date on the work CASA is doing to serve the immigrant community — join in here.
As you know, CASA works in Maryland, Pennsylvania, and Virginia and the legislative sessions in all three states have been keeping CASA quite busy lately! In Maryland, some of our top priority legislation has already had hearings. So far, the favorable testimony during the hearings has drastically outweighed the unfavorable testimonies. CASA is grateful for the strong witnesses, members and partners alike, and the sponsors that presented strong cases and arguments for the bills.
January 27 was a busy day with three bill hearings. The Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee heard SB88 the Trust Act and SB317 Universal Representation, and the Judiciary Committee in the House heard HB23 the Driver Privacy Act. The next day, the Driver Privacy Act had its hearing in the House. CASA was live tweeting each of the hearings for our bills, so make sure to tune in to Twitter to see the recaps. So many powerful testimonies were shared by brave CASA members. CASA’s Maryland Legislative Campaigns webpage is full of more information about the bills, petitions to sign, and member testimonies to watch. I highly recommend this resource.
In Virginia, HB 2138 was introduced by Delegate Elizabeth Guzman, to extend non-driver ID options to community members. CASA is excited about the identification for all legislation and the opportunities it will provide for the immigrant community in Virginia. Delegate Guzman is also a CASA board member and we are excited she is championing this issue.
In early 2020, Virginia joined the 15 other states that extend driving privileges to undocumented community members. It is a major victory for the immigrant community, granting many members access to the benefits driving offers, including having greater accessibility to employment opportunities, health services, and more. However, unlike its neighbors in Maryland and DC, Virginia did not extend a state identification option for those who aren’t drivers. Identification for all extends the opportunity to obtain an identification privilege card to undocumented immigrants to increase their access to services, banking, and security.
In Pennsylvania, there are exciting developments in allowing undocumented immigrants to get driver’s liscenes. House Bill 279 was introduced in January and will be critical legislation CASA will continue to push on. CASA’s Pennsylvania’s state director, Thais Carrero, was quoted in this article: “It’s about folks being able to move around, have a meaningful job, be able to take care of themselves and their families.”
In the upcoming months, there are lots of exciting and potential victories for our communities. I am so proud of our CASA team and our members for fighting for changes in their communities and truly being leaders of their own liberation.