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Michigan Civil Rights Commission Urges Legislature, Executive Office to Allow Undocumented to Apply for Driver’s Licenses

Lansing, MI - At their quarterly meeting today in Thompsonville, Michigan, the Michigan Civil Rights Commission passed a resolution calling for legislative and executive action to provide undocumented individuals residing in the state the opportunity to apply for a driver’s license.

“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,” said Portia Roberson, Chair of the Michigan Civil Rights Commission. “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.”

The resolution identifies “readily available access to transportation” as an essential element in an individual’s ability to find and maintain employment, and the only way many can take advantage of the institutions and resources that Michiganders with ready access to transportation enjoy.

Before 2008, the state provided for individuals who reside in Michigan to obtain a driver’s license, without regard to their immigration status, which was consistent with a 1995 opinion from Attorney General Frank Kelley. A contrary opinion from Attorney General Mike Cox and a change in state law allowed the legislature to deny access to driver’s licenses to some residents based on their immigration status. This decision puts Michigan out of step with at least 18 states and territories that allow individuals to be licensed to drive “without proof of citizenship or legal residence.”

The full resolution can be found here.

Members of the Michigan Civil Rights Commission are:

  • Portia L. Roberson, (D), Detroit, Chair
  • Zenna Faraj Elhasan, (D), Dearborn, Vice Chair
  • Gloria E. Lara, (I), Grand Rapids, Secretary
  • Rosann L. Barker, (D), Detroit
  • Richard Corriveau (D), Northville
  • Regina Gasco, (I), Petoskey
  • Luke R. Londo, (I), Hazel Park
  • David Worthams, (R), Kalamazoo

The Michigan Civil Rights Commission was created by the Michigan Constitution to safeguard constitutional and legal guarantees against discrimination. The Commission is charged with investigating alleged discrimination against any person because of religion, race, color or national origin, genetic information, sex, age, marital status, height, weight, arrest record, and physical and mental disability. The Michigan Department of Civil Rights serves as the operational arm of the Commission.

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