Chafee discusses tuition, driver’s licenses for illegal immigrants


Rhode Island Gov. Lincoln Chafee told NBC 10 on Wednesday’s he’s surprised at the outcry to the recent decision by the Board of Governors for Higher Education to grant in-state tuition to undocumented residents.

“It’s only 140 students, 140 undocumented students graduating a year out of hundreds of thousands that graduate from Rhode Island. Only 140 that are graduating are undocumented, so it’s a very small population and other states have done it,” Chafee said.

The governor said he’s also going to look at whether illegal immigrants should get driver’s licenses in Rhode Island.

“There are undocumented people driving already without licenses. They don’t have insurance. This is more of a threat to Rhode Island drivers, having cars that aren’t insured and people without valid licenses, getting eye checks and the like, and also the revenue that could come into DMV if you had some kind of procedure. So, I’m looking at the only other state that I know of that has this, Utah. Has it worked? Hasn’t it worked? If they say it hasn’t worked, we won’t pursue it,” he said.

The governor said his moves are in line with his philosophy of inclusiveness and cooperation.

“It’s what I believe in, and as a Rhode Islander in particular, that’s what made this state. It’s part of our rich history. Here we are in this gorgeous state room in the gorgeous state house at the height of our prosperity. It was immigrants fueling the growth of Rhode Island. It was a civil state in which we treated each other with great respect and that’s the dream of Roger Williams.”

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