DETROIT, Mich. - Gov. Gretchen Whitmer told an immigrant rights group that she supports finding 'a path' for undocumented immigrants to obtain driver's licenses.
During an impromptu interview with Movimiento Cosecha at the Democratic presidential debates in Detroit, Whitmer shared her support to making sure everyone, including undocumented immigrants, had identification.
“We need to ensure that everyone’s got a path to getting a license, so they’ve got identification,” the Democratic governor said in a video released by the group.
“That’s something that’s important to me, it’s important to our economy, and it’s important to the people of Michigan. Fortunately we’ve got a Secretary of State and an Attorney General who also, I know, feel the same way.”
According to the Michigan Immigrant Rights Center, undocumented immigrants were able to obtain driver's licenses until 2008. Prior to 2008, the state issued driver’s licenses to anyone who could provide proof of their identity and their residency in Michigan, despite their immigration status. Former Attorney General Mike Cox, a Republican, reversed that decision in Dec. 2007, and ruled that undocumented immigrants could not be considered Michigan residents. The state has since considered legislation to challenge the current law, but no bill has been introduced in the current legislative session. Moviemento Cosecha has made #LicensesforAll a focal point of their activism.
Tiffany Brown, a spokesperson for Whitmer, confirmed on Friday the governor's position on the matter.
"The Governor supports a path for undocumented immigrants to get an identification and would support legislation to do so," Brown wrote in an e-mail.
Thirteen states and the District of Columbia allow undocumented immigrants to obtain driver's license's, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Those states are California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Maryland, New Mexico, New York, Nevada, Utah, Vermont and Michigan.
According to the NCSL, proponents say that allowing undocumented immigrants to hold driver license's would increase revenue and increase trust between immigrants and police. Opponents have said the practice increase the risk of fraud and reduces the likelihood of immigrants following the proper channels to lawful residency.
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