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Undocumented drivers license bills re-introduced

man in car looking out windshield at traffic

Bills to allow all Michigan residents to receive a driver’s license regardless of ability to prove their legal status have been introduced in the state Senate and House.

Supporters claim it would help older rural residents without birth certificates, foreign adoptees, and legal immigrants experiencing bureaucratic delays in their paperwork.

They also say it would boost road safety and give undocumented immigrants access to things like auto loans, car insurance, and the ability to buy certain medicines.

“No estamos exigiendo algo injusto. Todos tenemos el derecho de poder ser identificados,” southeast Michigan resident and immigrant Sandra, only identified by her first name, said during a press conference Wednesday.

An interpreter translated her words, “We are not asking for something that is not just. Every one of us [has] the right to be identified.”

But some critics of the policy are not so convinced undocumented individuals should have access to official state IDs.

Representative Greg Markkanen (R-Hancock) said people should take a legal route to residency if they want an ID.

“You know, if they want to live here, they should be part of the community, I know most our communities in my district have a real true ethnic flavor to them and that’s a rich part of our community in the district and most of those people became citizens eventually,” Markkanen said Wednesday.

He shared concerns over whether giving someone an ID would provide them a false symbol of legal residency.

Representative Abraham Aiyash (D-Hamtramck) said it’s not up to the state to impose immigration policy.

“If you are able to get behind the wheel and responsibly drive and pass a driver’s test … that’s the only thing that should have a bearing over whether or not you should have a driver’s license,” Aiyash said during Wednesday’s press conference.

Prior to 2008, undocumented residents in Michigan were eligible to receive a state ID. That’s thanks to a 1995 Attorney General opinion.

Subsequent decisions and a 2008 law changed that.

Similar pieces of legislation under the 2008 policy have been introduced in previous legislative sessions but each has stalled.