Why do drivers licenses for all matter?
Many people who already have access to drivers licenses take them for granted. Driving is essential to everyday participation in society, and just like everyone else, people who are undocumented need to drive to work, take their kids to school, and run errands.
It’s also much more than just having the ability to drive legally. It is also about safety, ability, and dignity. With the ability to drive to work, school, and other places, undocumented folks can participate in society without additional fear of being separated from their families for running everyday errands.
It’s also not just a proof of identity, but a way for the residents of Michigan to acknowledge that immigrants are people.
Who benefits from drivers licenses for all?
DACA recipients, undocumented immigrants, legal immigrants who haven’t received their verification documents because of bureaucratic delays, rural and elderly people who don’t have birth certificates, citizens born abroad, and foreign adoptees all directly benefit. In addition, all Michiganders benefit from this legislation because of the safety and economic impact.
Isn't this unsafe?
Absolutely not. This will actually increase safety. When people are able to get licenses and drive that means that they will:
Have access to car insurance, which means that they are more likely to stop when they get into a traffic accident.
Be able to take driving lessons to learn how to better follow traffic laws.
Have better interactions with police if they are pulled over for something as simple as a faulty brake light.
Feel safer running errands without the fear that they will be separated from their families if they are pulled over.
This doesn't seem fair. Why don't immigrants just follow the rules like everyone else?
Undocumented immigrants had access to driver’s licenses until 2008, so this concept is not new and we need people to understand that the immigration process is complex and burdensome. Many people who are undocumented are in the process of getting work visas and becoming citizens and need driver’s licenses for everyday tasks in the meantime.
In addition, undocumented people will have to take drivers courses, take tests, pay fees, have insurance, and register their vehicles just like everyone else.
Won't this cost taxpayers money?
First, even undocumented folks pay taxes.
Second, no, this will not cost taxpayers’ any money. In fact, the influx of fees associated with obtaining a drivers’ license will actually mean more revenue for the Secretary of State’s office to pay for other services that all Michiganders rely on.
Won't this just make immigrants come to Michigan?
First, if this were true, that isn’t a bad thing, especially given our population losses of late.
Secondly, we are not the first state to have this legislation on the table, and Michigan should be proud to join the 14 other states that already have this law on the books.
Lastly, we shouldn’t punish people who want to call Michigan home by not allowing them access to the same things other Michiganders have. We don’t know everyone’s circumstances and it’s not right for us to judge.
If we give immigrants licenses, won't that lead to voter fraud?
Absolutely not. Not only is voter fraud extremely rare, but not everyone who has a driver’s license is also registered to vote, even in Michigan where there is automatic voter registration. Election laws clearly state that you must be a citizen to register to vote, meaning undocumented people cannot vote. If someone who was undocumented attempted to vote using their driver’s license, they would be turned away. Licenses are not about people attempting to break the law, it’s about recognizing the dignity of everyone and making Michigan a safer, more welcoming place for everyone.