WYOMING, Mich. (WOOD) — There is a new push from immigrant rights advocates to introduce legislation to Lansing that would ensure driver’s licenses for all.
Michigan United held a press conference Wednesday outside of the Wyoming Secretary of State’s Office to promote awareness and change for undocumented immigrants in Michigan.
One woman, who has lived in West Michigan for more than two decades, had a family medical emergency that put her in a difficult position a few years ago.
“She had to take her son to the emergency [room],” said interpreter Gema Lowe. “With fear, she’d rather not drive, but she had to do it.”
According to the Secretary of State office, the change in applicants providing U.S. citizenship or immigration status came because of a post-9/11 law change that required driver’s licenses and state identification applicants to provide proof of U.S. citizenship or immigration statue.
Which means after 2008, those who were undocumented could not legally drive to work, their kids to school or family to the emergency room. Advocates say these men and women already pay sales tax and state and federal income taxes and they want the state to allow them access to licenses.
“These situations have led to family separations,” said Daniel Caracheo, a Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals recipient himself. “These communities are living in fear. It has limited people’s social and economic mobility because you need transportation to go to work, to go to school, etc.”
Kent County Commissioner Ivan Diaz was also in attendance. He told News 8 that he has reached out to both state Rep. John Fitzgerald and state Sen. Winnie Brinks in the hopes of presenting new legislation.
“We believe this … political climate is (conducive) to pass driver’s licenses for all,” Lowe said.