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Two Weeks After Stoughton Illegal Immigrant Charged in Fatal Crash, State's Budget Includes Stricter Penalties for Driving Without License

However, Governor Deval Patrick softened language for a law requiring proof of residency in order to register a car, prompting Republican leaders in the State Legislature to seek an override.

Part of the $32.5 billion Fiscal Year 2013 state budget, signed by Governor Deval Patrick on July 8, includes , but the Governor softened language for a law requiring proof of residency in order to register a car.

As a result, Republican lawmakers are asking their peers on Beacon Hill for an override.

These amendments to the state budget received additional attention after Auricelli Braga, a 32-year-old unlicensed illegal immigrant from Stoughton, was  two weeks ago.

Braga was charged with motor-vehicle homicide, negligent operation of a motor vehicle and driving without a license following a two-car crash on Turnpike St. in Canton on June 24 .

Even though she didn't have a license, Braga still was able to in November of 2011 since state law only requires an applicant to have a valid insurance policy.

"It is clear from the legislative and public debate that [the amendments] are motivated by efforts to regulate the activities of undocumented people in Massachusetts," Patrick wrote in a message sent to members of the House and Senate.

"I have been just as clear that I will not accept efforts to compel state authorities to enforce federal immigration rules.  The recent ruling of the United States Supreme Court, striking down most of Arizona’s anti-immigrant law, underscores the importance of states treading lightly in this federal space.  In addition, a long line of authority makes legislation that is racially or ethnically conscious constitutionally suspect."

Patrick did fully support increasing penalties for the unlicensed operation of a motor vehicle; knowingly permitting an unlicensed individual to operate one’s vehicle; and knowingly employing for hire as a motor vehicle operator any unlicensed individual.

"Because there are clear public safety benefits from these changes and the provisions are race and ethnic neutral, I am signing these sections of the bill," Patrick wrote.

But the Governor amended a section of the budget that would require applicants provide a license, Social Security number, or other proof of legal residence when registering a motor vehicle.

"It is hard to understand how a non-resident simply owning a vehicle in Massachusetts jeopardizes the public’s safety," Patrick wrote to state lawmakers.

He wrote the section was "overbroad" and as currently written could sweep up foreign students with an international license or seasonal residents who wish to register a car.

The amendment gives the RMV the ability to coordinate with the Executive Office of Public Safety and Security to determine whether to exempt certain people from having to provide a license to register a car, according to a release from the Governor's office.

This, along with amending reforms to the Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT) program (the Governor rejected prohibiting use of welfare benefits at jewelry stores, nail salons and retail centers, according to the Herald), prompted Senate Minority Leader Bruce Tarr (R-Gloucester) and House Minority Leader Bradley Jones (R-North Reading) to send a letter to Senate President Therese Murray and House Speaker Robert DeLeo Tuesday afternoon, "requesting that the budget vetoes made by Governor Patrick regarding EBT and immigration reforms reach the floors of the House and Senate for override votes."

"Contrary to the Governor’s belief that these reforms are 'political grandstanding' tactics, the members of the Legislature and the majority of the citizens of the Commonwealth are in favor of such common sense protections," the letter states.

"Not only will these changes ensure that EBT benefits are reserved for those who truly need them, but these reforms will also make certain those who are in this country illegally and others are not able to use our roadways with reckless abandon because of the Administration’s failure or unwillingness to address this serious public safety issue."

The letter continued, "The above measures differ greatly from actions taken by other states, including Arizona.  These priorities are modest measures that both Republicans and Democrats have embraced.  Members of the Legislature deserve the opportunity to vote on overriding the Governor’s vetoes and to reinstate these very important measures in the budget."

The budget heads back to the State Legislature for any potential overrides, before being finalized. An override requires a two-thirds vote in both the House and Senate.

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