Michigan Denies Driver’s Licenses to DACA Recipients

According to an announcement made by Michigan’s Secretary of State, deferred action recipients in Michigan will not be granted driver’s licenses. DACA program implemented by President Obama will shelve the deportation of few young undocumented immigrants, who entered the country as minors and who satisfy all the deferred action eligibility requirements. Secretary of State, Ruth Johnson, states that DACA does not grant lawful status to the undocumented immigrants and driver’s licenses are granted only to the immigrants who are granted lawful status and so Michigan will not grant licenses to deferred action beneficiaries, in the state. This decision is likely to affect around 23,000 undocumented immigrants in Michigan.

Undocumented immigrants who are eligible for deferred action were happy as they can remain in the country lawfully and they can work there legally but this decision has now made them unhappy. Governors of Nebraska and Arizona have already signed executive orders denying driver’s licenses and state benefits to DACA recipients. Following that, Michigan’s Secretary of State, has also made a similar announcement. She has also ordered her employees to stop granting licenses to DACA beneficiaries. Earlier, undocumented immigrants in Michigan were able to obtain licenses, easily as they were not required to prove that they were lawful permanent residents, to get driver’s licenses. Later, the eligibility requirements were toughened and that made it difficult for the immigrants to obtain drivers licenses in Michigan.

Many immigrant groups and political leaders in Michigan have sent letters to the Governor and they have requested him to overturn the decision of Ruth Johnson. Similarly, immigration activists in Michigan are working to change this decision as this decision will make it difficult for the immigrants in Michigan to travel and they will have to look for alternative means to travel around. Attorneys like Robert Alvarez, who deal with immigration related issues state that it is not good for Michigan to follow states like Arizona as such anti-immigrant laws are likely to weaken the economy of the state.