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No Michigan driver's licenses, IDs for immigrants in deportation deferral program


Some immigrants who qualify for a federal deportation deferral still can't get a Michigan driver's license or ID card. 

The Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program -- OR DACA -- gives a two-year reprieve from deportation to some people who came to the United States before they were 16, and who are under age 31. They need to have lived here for five years, be a high school graduate or enrolled in school, and they can't be a threat to public safety.

But their special status isn't enough to give them driving privileges in Michigan.

"If you look at what U.S. citizenship and immigration services agency has put out, they've made very clear that the DACA participants do not have lawful status in the United States," says Michigan Department of State spokesman Fred Woodhams.

Woodhams says Michigan does issue driver's licenses to non-citizens, if they have a valid foreign passport and an employment authorization document.

But Michigan Immigrant Rights Center attorney Susan Reed says many people covered by DACA do have those documents, but are still denied the license or ID under the policy announced by the Secretary of State.

Reed says it doesn't make sense to tell people who came here when they were children and who've lived in this country most of their lives that they can work and go to school here, they just can't drive here.

She says it's likely the Secretary of State Ruth Johnson's instruction that branch offices deny driver's licenses and IDs to DACA participants will be challenged.