by Adam Delezenne
Rep. Stephanie Chang and others have introduced a bill seeking to allow undocumented residents of Michigan to receive driver’s licenses. This is an important bill that many in the immigrant rights community support. Michigan would be joining more than a dozen other states that already allow undocumented persons to obtain licenses.
It has only been since 2008 that people have needed to prove residency status when applying for a Michigan driver’s license. Immigrant communities have suffered, having this simple privilege withheld. Transportation is key to the quality of life and economic opportunity, especially in Michigan, where many times, driving by car, is the only convenient option. We often help clients at the clinic who are fighting deportation after what should have been a simple traffic stop.
This is a public safety issue. The Constitution of the State of Michigan defines “resident” as a person who lives in Michigan. People who live here, drive on the roads, pay taxes, have their kids in Michigan schools are Michigan residents despite their immigration status and should be allowed to obtain a driver’s license. This will raise revenue for the state and enable undocumented drivers to get auto insurance, something which makes all our lives safer and less expensive.
There is bipartisan support for this bill but more Republican legislators need to sign on if there will be any hope that this will pass. Contact your legislators to let them know that you support this bill!
The Southwest Detroit Immigrant and Refugee Center provides free and low-cost legal services to those who need them most in the Detroit area, with a focus on recent immigrants and refugees.
We were founded in 2014 by Kevin Piecuch, our Executive Director