Tapping into a mother’s heartbreak in an effort to overturn Massachusetts driver’s license law for undocumented immigrants


In 2011, a little something awful transpired to Maureen Maloney. Her son, Matthew J. Denice, 23, was killed when a truck driven by Nicolas Dutan Guaman, of Ecuador, who entered this region illegally, struck his motorbike and dragged Denice virtually a quarter-mile.

Maloney’s grief turned her into what she calls “an unlawful immigration activist” — and she’s now primary a cost at the behest of Republican gubernatorial candidate Geoff Diehl to overturn a new regulation that offers Massachusetts inhabitants with no legal status accessibility to a driver’s license. “I assume it’s a magnet and attracts a lot more illegal aliens to come to our place, to occur to our state,” she instructed me. Maloney, a Donald Trump supporter who appeared with him at a 2016 rally at which he resolved immigration coverage, explained she also backs Diehl because of his longtime opposition to the driver’s license laws.

You could say that Diehl — like Trump — is tapping into fear, criminal offense, and a mother’s heartbreak for political obtain. But panic, crime, and heartbreak can market. When it will come to the driver’s license challenge, the basic electorate is not accurately in the identical location as the Massachusetts Legislature. In accordance to a current Suffolk University/Boston World poll, 47 p.c opposed the law and 46 percent stated they assist it. Governor Charlie Baker vetoed the invoice, citing concerns that it will empower people today who are ineligible to vote to do so. Lawmakers overrode his veto, by a vote of 119-36 in the Dwelling and 32-8 in the Senate. Both of those Democratic gubernatorial candidates — Legal professional General Maura Healey and state Senator Sonia Chang-Díaz — support the new law. Chris Doughty, one more Republican jogging for governor, opposes it.

This 7 days, Maloney, of Milford, filed paperwork to create the “Fair and Protected Massachusetts Committee.” To get the concern on the November ballot, the committee ought to gather a little a lot more than 40,000 signatures by Aug. 24 — a extremely substantial hurdle. However whichever takes place, the marketing campaign inserts a divisive challenge into the governor’s race. If it helps make the ballot, it also has the opportunity to upend a new regulation that does not go into effect until finally July 2023. It handed soon after decades of unsuccessful makes an attempt since advocates correctly argued that denying licenses on the basis of immigration standing increases the variety of unlicensed and uninsured drivers and can make the roads much less safe.

Maloney doesn’t get the community safety argument. Like Baker, she raises queries about the state’s ability to course of action the foreign documentation an immigrant has to exhibit to confirm their establish.

But Maloney’s opposition really isn’t about data, anyway. It is about what occurred to her son right after Guaman, who was driving drunk and without the need of a license, with his 6-year-aged son in his truck, drove as a result of a halt indication in Milford. He collided with Denice, who was dragged to his death as witnesses viewed in horror. In 2014, Guaman was uncovered guilty of vehicular homicide and manslaughter, amid other prices, and was sentenced to 12 to 14 years in prison. “I reside with a deep, searing pain in my heart that under no circumstances goes away,” stated Maloney at the time of the sentencing.

It would be the height of conceitedness to tell a person their reaction to this kind of pain is improper. However survivors do system discomfort in different ways. For case in point, Robert Curley, the Cambridge father of 10-calendar year-outdated Jeffrey Curley, who was kidnapped and murdered in 1997, to start with led a struggle to carry again the loss of life penalty in Massachusetts. He then changed his brain about it. When I requested Maloney about that, she stuck with her argument: “I do not believe we should really be satisfying men and women for breaking our rules. There is a authorized way to immigrate into our point out. There is a prolonged wait around for that, I comprehend. But this is a slap in the facial area to people who do immigrate this way.” Massachusetts, she mentioned, “has a really relaxed climate that draws additional persons.” She continues to be a Trump supporter, because “lives were getting saved” owing to his enforcement of immigration laws.

Extra Maloney: “I think it is truly vital that the citizens of Massachusetts make the last selection. That’s why I want to put it on the ballot in November.” Her cellphone and e-mail “are blowing up” with supportive messages, she stated, and she thinks “it’s doable” to get the needed selection of signatures.

If which is real, Massachusetts Democrats greater be prepared to combat for what they say they imagine in. There’s a ton of passion and emotion driving this difficulty.


Joan Vennochi is a Globe columnist. She can be achieved at [email protected] Observe her on Twitter @joan_vennochi.





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