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Illegal immigrants storm Michigan capitol to demand driver’s licenses

On Wednesday, a group of illegal immigrants and allies entered the Michigan state capitol and held a rally outside the House floor demanding that they be given access to driver’s licenses. 

The move comes as bills that would allow those in the state illegally to obtain driver’s licenses make their way through both the state House and Senate. 

“What do we want? Driver’s licenses!” the group chanted in both Spanish and English. “When do we want it? Now!” 

Collectively known as the Drive SAFE bills, House Bills 4410-4412 and Senate Bills 265-267 have been stuck in the committee stage. If passed, they would remove the current provision requiring proof of citizenship or legal presence to obtain a driver’s license.  

In 1995, then-Democratic Michigan Attorney General Frank Kelley ruled that illegal immigrants should have access to the documents. That remained the law of the state until 2007, when his Republican successor, Mike Cox, reversed the decision, arguing that “there can be no doubt that a rational basis exists for denying driver’s licenses to illegal aliens.” 

Since then, civil rights groups and certain Democratic politicians have pushed to once again allow everyone in the state to obtain a driver’s license, regardless of legal status. 
 
In October, the Michigan Civil Rights Commission urged the legislature and governor via an official resolution to move forward with the plan, arguing that, “not allowing undocumented persons to qualify for driver’s licenses impacts an appreciable and disproportionate number of ethnic and racial minorities.” 

“To ensure everyone in Michigan has the ability to fully exercise their civil rights, we must allow those who qualify to obtain a driver’s license,” MCRC Chair Portia Roberson said at the time. “Today the Commission spoke unanimously, directing the executive office and the state legislature to find a solution that will allow all those residing and working in Michigan to have the option to obtain a license.” 

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