As top lawmakers gathered to sign a bill that gives illegal immigrants access to a driver’s license, one mom was quietly working to gather the signatures required to undo their work.
“After the death of my son, that is why I have become involved, opposing illegal immigration and becoming politically active,” Maureen Maloney, whose son was killed in 2011 by an illegal immigrant drunken driver, told the Herald Tuesday.
When Republican gubernatorial candidate Geoff Diehl reached out to ask if she would spearhead an effort to overturn the Work and Family Mobility Act, Maloney said she didn’t hesitate.
“The issue with providing them licenses — it’s a magnet. It’s another reason to bring them to Massachusetts,” Maloney said of the illegal immigrant who killed her son.
On Monday, she filed a petition with the Office of Campaign and Political Finance letting them know she would begin the process of asking voters to overturn the law through a veto referendum.
“The death of my son ignited my passion for activism,” she said.
Ecuadorian driver Nicolas Dutan Guaman struck Matthew Denice, who was on a motorcycle, with his pickup truck on Aug. 20, 2011. Denice, 23, became trapped underneath the truck and was dragged for a quarter mile in Milford as witnesses screamed for Guaman to stop.
Guaman is serving a sentence of 12 to 14 years for OUI manslaughter.
The law Maloney now hopes to overturn was passed by the Legislature early this month despite a veto by Gov. Charlie Baker and will see those without legal status, but with the ability to demonstrate their identity using documents from their home country, granted access to receive driver’s licenses from the Registry of Motor Vehicles on July 1 of next year.
Amanda Orlando, Diehl’s campaign manager, told the Herald Tuesday that Diehl reached out to Maloney to begin the process after lawmakers moved forward despite the objections of the governor.
“This just isn’t the right move for Massachusetts and there are a lot of unintended consequences,” she said. “The Diehl campaign and Leah Cole Allen for Lt. Governor campaign will support (Maloney) every step of the way.”
The law has been hailed by proponents as the only way to make sure those drivers, who must use the roads anyway to survive, are participating in the training and insurance associated with licensing.
“I still do believe that this bill will dramatically increase public safety. People will have to learn how to drive, they’ll learn the rules of the road. They will have to have insurance, there will be less fleeing the scene of accidents. There will be less accidents,” state Senate President Karen Spilka said ahead of the bill’s ceremonial signing.
Maloney will have a long road ahead of her. Her group will need to collect over 40,000 signatures, or 1.5% of total votes cast for the last governor’s race, in order to make the ballot. They have until August 24 to do it, she said, and they already have a team hundreds-strong working on it.
“I feel like the voters should be making this decision. I think the Legislature was more than a little tone-deaf,” she said.
FAMILY ‘SHATTERED’: Maureen Maloney, whose son Matthew Denice was killed by an illegal immigrant, is seen in a family photo taken at Matthew’s graduation, with sons Michael and Matthew, and husband Mike Maloney. (Herald file photo.)