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Support Statement: AILA Michigan

Updated: Jul 7, 2023

American Immigration Lawyers Association-Michigan Chapter (AILA Michigan) supports the reinstatement of state identification and driver’s licenses for all individuals in the State of Michigan

The Michigan Chapter of the American Immigration Lawyers Association is comprised of immigration attorneys and law professors who practice and teach immigration law in Michigan. AILA-Michigan Chapter member attorneys represent U.S. families seeking permanent residence for close family members, as well as U.S. businesses seeking talent from the global marketplace. Our members also represent foreign students, entertainers, athletes, and asylum seekers, often on a pro bono basis. AILA National is a nonpartisan, not-for-profit organization that provides continuing legal education, information, professional services, and expertise for over 15,000 members through its 39 local chapters, including the AILA-Michigan Chapter. (1)

When our state legislature changed the law in 2009 to require proof of “legal presence” for the first time in 2009, tens of thousands of noncitizens in Michigan, including those who are in the process of obtaining lawful immigration status, lost the ability to obtain state identification or driver’s licenses. In addition, many of our clients with a range of legal immigration statuses struggled to prove their status to the satisfaction of the Michigan Department of State because of the complexity of the immigration law, slow processing times, and the limits of the Department of Homeland Security’s electronic verification system. Under current law, driver’s licenses are only valid until the last date of authorized stay listed on the face of an individual’s immigration documents. Unfortunately, documents are often automatically extended by regulation or through an application process that can take months to receipt and verify. This can create a heavy and unnecessary burden on immigrants, their families, and their employers.

For these reasons, AILA Michigan is in full support of access to standard Michigan driver’s licenses and state identification regardless of immigration status. The passage of the Drive SAFE (Safety, Access, Freedom, and the Economy) bills would not only provide peace of mind to undocumented people but also to the thousands of individuals lawfully w through temporary humanitarian, family, and employment-based immigration status programs. (2) In addition, the passage of this legislation would also reap economic benefits for the state’s economy by boosting state revenue by $13.5 million and contribute $12 million in recurring revenue, $9 million of which would be from sales and gas taxes related to vehicle ownership. (3) We want to continue to see our economy and state flourish for everyone; lack of access to state identification or a driver’s license should not be a barrier to getting to work, school, or medical care.

(2) The Drive SAFE bills have not yet been introduced in the 2021-2022 Legislative Session, but were previously introduced in the 2019-2020 Legislative Session as HB 5192, HB 5193, SB 0631, and SB 0632.


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