Group Addresses Barriers Migrants Face Obtaining a Michigan Driver’s License | Local News

HARTFORD — When migrants or other immigrants come to work in Michigan, they may encounter obstacles in obtaining a Michigan driver’s license.

A grassroots organization hopes that will change soon.

We the People Michigan, a Detroit-based organization established in 2017 dedicated to improving the lives of working-class residents across the state, regardless of race or ethnicity, held a town hall in Hartford earlier this month in hopes of gaining support from a group. bills that would make it easier for immigrants to obtain a valid Michigan driver’s license.

The proposed DRIVE Safe bills, if passed, would allow immigrants and migrants access to ID or a driver’s license with proof of Michigan identity and residency, regardless of or their citizenship status, according to Lupita Sanchez, a Southwest Michigan organizer for We the People Michigan.

“All Michigan residents need to get to work, school, church, doctor’s appointments, and to buy goods and services, but far too many communities lack access to public transportation. common reliable, making driving a necessity,” he said. “We cannot say that we need immigrants to participate in our workforce on the one hand, but deny them the means of transport to do so on the other. It is a question of fairness , dignity and justice.”

About 70 residents of Southwest Michigan’s 39th State District, represented by State Representative Pauline Wendzel, R-Watervliet, attended the town hall, March 10, in Hartford.

“We the People Michigan has an organizing team in Hartford working to ensure there is bipartisan support on the Drive SAFE bills to ensure passage,” Sanchez said. “As members of the 39th House District, they have organized to seek the support of Representative Pauline Wendzel.

“There were various church leaders, local business owners, and members of the working class in the 39th District who collectively gathered over 300 letters of support for the Drive SAFE Bill from businesses, farmers, and communities. community members in the district,” Sanchez continued. .

The Drive SAFE bills are expected to be introduced in the Michigan House and Senate in the coming weeks and have the support of Democratic leaders, however, Sanchez hopes the legislation will receive support from Republican lawmakers.

“The Drive SAFE bills have received broad support within the Democratic Party, but organizers are hoping to gain bipartisan support,” he said.

Internal Bills 4835 and 4836 were originally introduced in 2021 by State Representatives Rachel Hood, D-Grand Rapids and Padma Kuppa, D-Troy, to expand access to driver’s licenses and government ID cards. Status for Michigan Residents.

The bills, if passed, would allow people who can meet Michigan residency requirements and prove their identity, but cannot produce documents to verify their legal presence, to access driver’s licenses or state IDs. If the bills are approved, the driver’s license cannot be used for federal purposes or to vote, according to the Michigan Democrats’ website.

Currently, Michigan law states that people applying for a driver’s license must be “legally present” in the United States and must be residents of Michigan. As proof of being legally present, applicants must have lawful permanent resident status, or a valid visa or work authorization. To prove Michigan residency, applicants need at least two documents with their name and address, such as a utility bill, bank statement, mortgage or rental agreement, or a payslip with their name and address.

We the people had hoped that Wendzel would attend the town hall and support the cause, but she didn’t, according to Sanchez.

“Rep. Wendzel was invited but did not attend, so community members are still waiting to hear her position on the DRIVE Safe bill,” he said.

However, Jacob Rushlow, Wendzel’s administrative assistant, said that until the bills are introduced, Wendzel is unwilling to take a stand yet, but is willing to work with migrants and other undocumented residents seeking to obtain a driver’s license under current Michigan law. .

“People who are ‘legally present’ in the United States can already obtain a license in Michigan,” Rushlow said. “Rep (Wendzel) is not in favor of an expansion, but would seek to make it easier for ‘legally present’ people to get their temporary permits. paperwork, she can certainly review it.”


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