Three members of the region's legislative delegation are defending a bill in the Massachusetts House that would grant drivers licenses to illegal immigrants. New Bedford's Chris Hendricks, Westport's Paul Schmid, and Fall River's Alan Sylvia – Democrats all – actually signed on as co-sponsors of the legislation.

Sylvia ignored a message inviting him on the air to discuss his support of the legislation. As a U.S. Marine and a former member of the Massachusetts State Police, I was a bit surprised and disappointed to learn that Sylvia would back such a measure, let alone co-sponsor it.

Schmid did accept the invitation to call into my program and I suspect that he quickly regretted the decision. Schmid is a lightweight on Beacon Hill known for going along to get along. Schmid has no committee chairmanships, which says a lot about his influence.

Rep. Schmid believes that by granting licenses to illegals the roads will be safer for you and me because licensed illegals would purchase insurance and would be less likely to be involved in a hit-and-run situation. I hear he also believes in the Tooth Fairy.

Schmid argues we need illegal immigrants to work in the fields, "our fish houses," health care and to cut our lawns. When pressed about what he knows about illegals working in "our fish houses," Schmid accused me of putting words in his mouth. He did state that granting licenses to illegals would make it easier for them to get to and from the jobs that without them would go unfilled.

Rep. Hendricks is different. Hendricks buys into the left-wing mantra on this issue, referring to "undocumented immigrants" as our "fellow citizens." He suggests that opponents of this bill view illegals as "rapists" and "drug dealers." Hendricks blames a broken immigration system in Washington for victimizing those who choose to skirt our immigration laws. He also falsely accuses the Trump Administration of seeking to do away with asylum for those who seek it and are qualified.

Like Schmid, Hendricks believes that granting driver's licenses to illegals would make the roads safer. But Hendricks also believes that anyone seeking a "better life" in the United States is entitled to it and that it is our responsibility to provide for it, regardless of whether they enter the country legally or not.

When I suggested that he might be out of step with his constituents on this issue, Hendricks made clear that it was his duty to vote the way he felt was right even if it went up against the views of his constituency.

When newly-elected State Representative Hendricks appeared on my program last fall, I advised him that he could be a one-termer if he put his interests ahead of the voters. That advice still stands.

Barry Richard is the host of The Barry Richard Show on 1420 WBSM New Bedford. He can be heard weekdays from noon to 3 p.m. Contact him at and follow him on Twitter @BarryJRichard58. The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the author.

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