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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.

Governor Whitmer supports driver's licenses for undocumented

Gretchen Whitmer
Creative Commons: Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy, University of Michigan.

“Right now in Michigan, undocumented immigrants cannot get licenses. And I wanted to know, would you be willing to support access to the undocumented immigrants to get licenses here in Michigan?"

That’s Dominique Leon Becerra in a recording of her interview with Governor Gretchen Whitmer. The encounter was recorded by Movimiento Cosecha Michigan -- a non-violent immigrant led movement demanding justice and rights for immigrants in the state. Here is Governor Gretchen Whitmer responding to the organizer’s question.  

“We need to ensure that everyone’s got a path to getting a license, so they’ve got identification. That’s something that’s important to me, it’s important to our economy, and it’s important to the people of Michigan. And fortunately, we’ve got a secretary of state and an attorney general who also, I know, feel the same way.”

Eleven years ago, the state of Michigan passed a legislation preventing residents in the state without legal status from being able to receive a driver’s licenses or a personal identification car. Terri Lynn Land, who then served as secretary of state, introduced a law that would require every applicant of a driver’s license or a personal identification provide evidence of legal status. The law passed in January of 2008. 

Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson has said she will be standing in support of changing the law according to a statement from her office. 

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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