Sens. Stephanie Chang (D-Detroit) and Winnie Brinks (D-Grand Rapids), with the support of a broad-based coalition of organizations, have introduced bills to allow all Michigan residents an opportunity to obtain state identification cards or driver’s licenses regardless of their immigration status, as Michigan law permitted prior to 2008.
The Drive SAFE (Safety, Access, Freedom, and the Economy) bill package would apply to everyone living in Michigan who meets the definition of having a residence in the state, including those who are unable to prove their lawful presence. The bills would also help the elderly — such as those of rural origins whose births may not have been properly recorded or whose records were lost; as well as U.S. citizens born abroad to American families, foreign adoptees, and those who are undocumented.
“Michigan is home to nearly 700,000 immigrants, and guaranteeing them access to licenses and state identification cards would allow them to contribute to our local economies — including allowing them to get to work, drop their kids off at school and go to church,” Sen. Chang said. “It’s time to update Michigan’s laws with 16 other states and Washington, D.C. to allow undocumented residents — many for no reason of their own — the ability to obtain a driver’s license or state identification card. These bills are common sense because they will enhance road safety, grow our agricultural economy and protect human dignity.”
Senate Bill 433, sponsored by Sen. Chang, would require the Secretary of State to issue a driver’s license to applicants who satisfy all other requirements for a license after they develop rules in cooperation with law enforcement, immigrants’ rights groups and other interested parties. Senate Bill 434, introduced by Sen. Brinks, would do the same for the issuance of state identification cards.
“Immigrants are a critical part of Michigan’s economy, touching a multitude of industries from agriculture and manufacturing to hospitality, health care, construction and more. The least we can do to honor their vital role to our economy is to permit them a pathway to a state identification card or driver’s license upon meeting certain requirements,” Sen. Brinks said. “This policy has proven beneficial in other states, as it has boosted local economies and increased public safety. Michigan must address this issue because it keeps Michiganders safe, which serves to benefit all of us.”
There is broad support for increased access to IDs, and these bills are a common-sense approach that the legislature should adopt.Both bills have been referred to the Senate Transportation Committee.