Group kicks off Week of Action, pushing for change to license laws

NOW: Group kicks off Week of Action, pushing for change to license laws

NILES, Mich.—The Drive Michigan Forward coalition is calling for the community to join in and help them advocate to restore driver’s licenses for all. This is a statewide coalition that started two years ago to support undocumented immigrants and anyone who faces challenges in receiving a license.

In 2017, the federal government implemented a law called the “Real ID Act,” which established criteria for driver’s licenses and state ID’s to be recognized for federal purposes, such as entering a federal building or boarding a plane for a flight. Real ID’s require proof of lawful status, meaning you need you need to be a permanent resident or have a green card, be an asylee, have deferred action or DACA, or be a pending resident of asylum or green card.

Due to this burden of proof, Deputy Director of the We the People Action Fund said it makes things extremely hard and complicated for people in Michigan, but especially undocumented residents, considering you need more documentation for a real ID.

The Drive Michigan Forward coalition’s mission is to bring together wisdom, expertise, and creativity of undocumented people and allies to ensure that change and justice is provided, and to call for a new hearing of Drive Safe Bills for all mitten state residents.

“Lots of family, community members, friends, people that I love in my lift don’t have access to and ID, and so I know how hard it is for them to do simple things like pick up medicine from the pharmacy, even, I was talking to someone the other day and she’s like you even need an id to make a return purchase at a store now a days. And so many crucial things that require having an id, and it makes life really difficult for people who don’t,” We the People Action Fund Deputy Director Maria Ibarra-Frayre said.

The Drive Safe Bills were introduced in 2021 in the Michigan State Legislature, and would make non-commercial Michigan drivers licenses and state ID cards available to applicants who do not have proof of U.S. citizenship or immigration status. It would also eliminate the “legal presence” requirement for standard licenses and forbid discrimination against individuals holding standard licenses issued under the new section of the law. This bill is currently in the rules and competitiveness committee.

“It’s been in that committee now for almost a year now, really without much movement. So, what we’re trying to do is pressure all the powers, including the speaker of the house and committee members to schedule a hearing with a vote for this bill, for it to move out of the committee and move onto the next phase which would be to be discussed at the full house of representatives,” Ibarra-Frayre said.

The federal enforcement deadline for the Real ID Act is May 2023.

For the link to attend the coalitions week of action’s livestream and for more information on their mission,  you can click here.

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