LANSING, Michigan (WILX) – Since 2008, immigrants and undocumented migrants in Michigan have not been able to obtain state ID cards, but that may now change.

The “Drive SAFE plan” (Security, Access, Freedom and Economy) was reintroduced in Michigan House Tuesday afternoon. Companion bills were introduced in the Michigan Senate earlier this week.

The plan would give those who cannot prove their legal presence in our country the opportunity to obtain a driver’s license or state identity card.

“Everyone deserves the ability to take care of their family,” said Tom Hickson, vice president of public policy and advocacy with the Michigan Catholic Conference. “In a state known as the birthplace of the Motor City, you really have to drive to do it. “

Bills 433 and 434 would provide driver’s licenses and state ID cards to over 100,000 immigrants.

“Immigrants are business owners, parents, professionals, essential workers and caregivers,” said Padma Kuppa, state representative for District 41. “Giving them access to a driver’s license means that they can fulfill their responsibilities.

This was not only seen as an economic issue, but also as a security issue.

“Denying nearly 100,000 people the opportunity to obtain a driver’s license increases the risk of traffic accidents due to a lack of knowledge of the rules of the road,” said Hickson. “It also increases insurance costs for the rest of us. “

It is also a health concern, especially at a time when vaccines are needed to stop the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

“There were a lot of people in our community who weren’t able to access a COVID test,” said Nelly Fuentes, an immigrant from Michigan. “There are still people who are wondering about access to a COVID vaccine due to the lack of a driver’s license. “

The legislature believes that this plan would help not only all sectors of the economy, but also law enforcement.

“It is very important when a police officer stops someone that they know who they are talking to,” said Ted Nelson, former Michigan State Police detective sergeant and member of the Law Enforcement Action Partnership ( LEAP). “Without proper identification then the police are forced to try to find out who these people are, whether they are wanted or not, whether they can drive in Michigan, and that takes a lot of time and resources.”

Passage of these bills would bring Michigan’s law closer to that of 16 other states, including Washington DC and Puerto Rico.

“This policy does not grant any undocumented person the opportunity to vote or otherwise obtain the privilege of US citizenship. These bills, however, represent a small but very powerful step that will increase safety on our roads and protect the citizens of Michigan. “

Immigrants in an irregular situation are not the only ones to benefit from these bills, but also DACA beneficiaries, foreign-born citizens and foreign adoptees.

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