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Immigrant rights activists demand driver's licenses for all

People standing at the Drivers Licenses for All press conference with a banner that reads "Licencias Hoy Papeles Mañana"
Michigan United
West MI Immigrant Rights Advocates urge the new state legislature to pass Drivers Licenses for All legislation

A series of West Michigan immigrant advocacy groups gathered in Wyoming on Wednesday, urging the new state legislature to ensure all Michigan residents have access to driver's licenses.

Immigrant rights advocates in West Michigan are urging the state legislature to allow driver’s licenses for all Michigan residents. A series of advocacy groups banned together on Wednesday outside the Secretary of State office in the city of Wyoming to have their voices heard.

Prior to 2008, Michigan allowed all residents to apply for and renew their driver’s licenses, regardless of immigration status. The policy was later ended by former Michigan Attorney General, Mike Cox. Immigrant rights advocates say this created fifteen years of transportation barriers for thousands of residents trying to do daily tasks, like go to work or take their kids to school.

“Recently I had to take my son to an emergency room and he ended up being in surgery. Now I have to take them to the follow-up appointment after his operation with fear, and it’s not fair," a West Michigan mother shared.

Wednesday's event was offered in both English and Spanish, using interpreters. Groups included Cosecha GR, We The People - Michigan, Ministerios Ríos de Agua Viva, Michigan United, Movimiento Cosecha Michigan and a representative from a labor union. Leaders said the time to strike is now, noting that democrats now have majority control over the state.

“We must hold the democrats accountable for their promises. They promised to support immigrant families, and now that they are in control of the government, it’s time for them to deliver," Ana Rodriguez with We the People - Michigan said.

18 states and the District of Columbia have passed legislation allowing every resident to obtain a driver’s license. Advocates say it’s a step towards basic dignity and security for the community. Naysayers in the Michigan House fear it could legitimize illegal immigration.

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