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A WGVU initiative in partnership with the W.K. Kellogg Foundation using on-air programs and community events to explore issues of inclusion and equity.

40 people make 60 mile pilgrimage to Lansing for driver's licenses for undocumented

Michelle Jokisch Polo

A crowd of individuals from Grand Rapids, Kalamazoo, Sturgis and Detroit that greets the 40 residents from Kent County as they reach their destination at the state's capitol. 

[Sound of people cheering with drums and megaphones]

The group is organized by the immigrant-led group, Movimiento Cosecha GR. Kent County Resident Sergio Cira-Reyes holds a sign that reads “Walking to Drive”. He says the pilgrimage is meant to raise awareness about the need to offer drivers’ licenses for undocumented residents in Michigan.  

“…in Michigan the undocumented immigrants that are living here can no longer get licenses like they used to be able to do ten years ago.”  

In 2008, Michigan passed a law that required all applicants of a personal identification card or a driver’s license to have legal status. The only group that is currently exempt from this requirement is individuals who have differed-action status, known as dreamers. 

The journey to Lansing took the forty individuals five days to complete. Rhonda Steward from the Bronson Park Encampment in Kalamazoo also made the journey in a wheelchair. In August, Steward and a dozen of other families were required to vacate the park after Kalamazoo City officials banned people from staying in the park overnight. Movimiento Cosecha Kalamazoo was one of the key organizations that joined Steward in organizing against the city proposal. 

“No matter what color, race, creed, we are all equal.” 

In the summer of 2017, state representatives Stephanie Chang and Dave Pagel introduced two bills to the house that would issue driver’s licenses and state identifications cards to undocumented individuals. The bipartisan bills have not left committee. 

Michelle Jokisch Polo, WGVU News.

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