LANSING, Mich. – Michigan lawmakers announced a bill package that would give all residents the chance to obtain state identification cards or driver’s licenses, even if they can’t prove legal presence, according to a news release.
The package of bills were announced by Sens. Stephanie Chang (D–Detroit) and Winnie Brinks (D–Grand Rapids), along with Reps. Alex Garza (D–Taylor) and Rachel Hood (D–Grand Rapids) and a broad-based coalition of organizations.
The bills are called The Drive SAFE (Safety, Access, Freedom, and the Economy) bills, and would apply to residents who meet the definition of having residence in Michigan. Supports said people who would benefit the most are the elderly, people whose births may not have been properly recorded or whose records were lost, U.S. citizens born abroad to American families and people who are undocumented.
"I am proud that such a broad-based coalition has come together to support driver’s licenses for those who cannot prove their legal residence. It is time to update Michigan’s laws to enhance safety on the road, grow our agricultural economy, and protect human dignity,” Chang said. “Our undocumented neighbors are just trying to support their families and contribute to our communities — having access to licenses will allow them to take care of their family, get to work, visit a loved one in the hospital, and go to church. Also, ensuring that Michigan drivers have taken drivers training and tests, and gotten car insurance, will greatly increase safety on the road.”
Senate Bill 631 and House Bill 5192 would require the Secretary of State — after developing rules in cooperation with law enforcement, immigrants’ rights groups and other interested parties — to issue a driver’s license to applicants who satisfy all other requirements for a license. Senate Bill 632 and House Bill 5193, introduced by Sen. Brinks and Rep. Hood, respectively, would do the same for receiving a state identification card.
“For generations, people from all over the world have found a home here in Michigan and allowing them to apply for licenses is a commonsense step for our state,” Rep. Hood said. “These bills provide our neighbors the basic right to operate a vehicle when properly insured and licensed while also protecting all of Michigan’s drivers, bikers and pedestrians from harm and bankruptcy, especially following the recent changes to our Auto No-Fault system. They also ensure that all members of our communities can continue making valuable contributions to our home and economy without fear.”