CRANSTON, R.I. (WPRI) — The Rhode Island Division of Motor Vehicles will be able to issue driving privilege cards and driving privilege permits to individuals who are in the U.S. illegally starting next year.

Gov. Dan McKee signed a bill into law that made Rhode Island the 17th state to give immigrants in the country unlawfully permission to drive.

The governor’s office said driving priviliges will expand access to education, health care and employment.

“By granting every Rhode Islander of driving age the opportunity to safely and legally drive a vehicle, we are allowing them to further their education and career – which in turn benefits the entire state,” McKee said. “That means more workers will have access to more jobs and opportunities that keep Rhode Island’s momentum going.”

According to Lt. Gov. Sabina Matos, 29,000 taxpaying Rhode Islanders will benefit from this law.

(Story continues below the video.)

Immigrants without legal status would be able to apply if have filed taxes, provide two proof of identity documents, two proof of residence documents and have insurance as required by law.

The cards and permits would not be a valid form of identification for official federal or state voting purposes.

12 News spoke to a Providence mom who moved to Rhode Island when she was 8 years old but doesn’t have legal status. She says while she’s a taxpayer and has been active in her community for decades, she still can’t do basic things like drive.

“To have the fear that I’m going to be stopped by a police officer you know and just get deported or get arrested even though I have my car insurance and registration. You still have the fear in your soul that you’re going to get in trouble,” Sucely Murillo said.

Driving privileges for immigrant in the country unlawfully were granted in Massachusetts recently. Lawmakers decided to override Gov. Charlie Baker’s veto of similar legislation. The Bay State joined 16 other states and the District of Columbia in doing so.

The law goes into effect July 1, 2023.