Gov. Chris Christie said Monday he would veto a bill that that would establish a New Jersey driver’s license for residents who cannot prove they are in the United States legally, dashing the hopes of hundreds of people who rallied at the statehouse Monday to support the measure.
Christie’s statement came after an estimated 450 people – some waving flags, others wearing stickers reading “Drive Safe NJ,” and many speaking Spanish – marched from the War Memorial in Trenton to the statehouse. It also comes as he competes in a crowded field for the Republican presidential nomination.
“I am disturbed by the Legislature even considering making undocumented individuals eligible for New Jersey driver’s licenses,” Christie said in a statement. He said a driver’s license is the most important piece of homeland security identification and that it’s “dangerous” for lawmakers to consider the measure.
“If it were to ever reach my desk, it would be vetoed immediately,” Christie said.
The legislation is important because so many immigrants in New Jersey need a car to get to work, rally organizer Juan Pablo Orjuela said. He said the measure could promote safety by encouraging people to buy auto insurance.
The Assembly’s homeland security committee considered the measure Monday.
“It’s important for these individuals because they want to come out of the shadows,” Democratic Assemblywoman and bill author Annette Quijano said.
New Jersey lawmakers are addressing the issue as the Republican presidential campaign focuses heavily on immigration. Front-runner Donald Trump has risen in polls in part because of his position on illegal immigration that includes building a wall at the Mexican border.
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