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DRIVER’S LICENSES FOR MICHIGAN’S UNDOCUMENTED IMMIGRANTS FAQS



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DRIVER’S LICENSES FOR MICHIGAN’S UNDOCUMENTED IMMIGRANTS FAQS


  1. Why should Michigan extend driving privileges to the undocumented immigrants?

  • Giving the opportunity to obtain driver’s licenses to the undocumented immigrants makes good public policy sense for Michigan.

  • The required driver’s license training and testing make the undocumented immigrants better drivers and improve road safety for everyone. For example, a 2016 study found fewer traffic fatalities on average in states that do not restrict driving based on immigration status.

  1. What are the revenue implications of extending driver’s licenses to the undocumented immigrants for Michigan?

  • An estimated 55,000 new driver’s licenses will be issued, and 20,000 vehicles will be purchased, resulting in $13.5 million in revenue in the first 3 years.

  • In addition, $12 million in annual revenue will be generated from sales and gas taxes, resulting in $100 million in revenue over 10 years.

  1. What will happen to our auto insurance premiums if we allow the undocumented immigrants to obtain driver’s licenses?

  • Current drivers will see a modest decrease by $20 in their annual auto insurance premiums due to an increased pool of drivers.

  • A study has shown that the average auto insurance costs are lower in states that allow the undocumented immigrants to obtain driver’s licenses than in states that do not.

  1. What does allowing driver’s licenses for the undocumented immigrants mean for Michigan’s economy?

  • Michigan’s $100 billion agricultural industry needs workers with reliable transportation. An estimated 5% of the state’s undocumented immigrants work in this industry. The Michigan Farm Bureau endorses driver’s licenses for the undocumented immigrants.

  • With reliable transportation, the undocumented immigrants will be able to secure better jobs, work more hours, travel farther to meet employers’ labor needs and purchase goods and services. All that will mean more tax revenue for Michigan.

  1. Will driver’s licenses allow the undocumented immigrants to vote?

  • No, as opposed to Real ID-compliant licenses which require proof of lawful status, future standard driver’s licenses extended to the undocumented immigrants cannot serve any federal purposes or allow them to vote.

  1. If the undocumented immigrants have never been allowed to drive in Michigan, why should we set a precedent?

  • In fact, the undocumented immigrants were allowed to obtain driver’s licenses in Michigan prior to 2008. The removal of that privilege resulted from a change in the Attorney General’s opinion at the time.

  • Along with the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico, 16 other states already allow the undocumented immigrants to obtain driver’s licenses: CA, CO, CT, DE, HI, IL, MD, NJ, NM, NV, NY, OR, UT, VA, VT, WA.

  1. What other non-citizen groups are already allowed to drive in Michigan?

  • Permanent residents (green card holders), international students, international nationals with work permits, tourists with a valid foreign driver’s license from a treaty country along with an international driving permit or a translation of the license with a color photo.

  1. Why do the undocumented immigrants need driver’s licenses in Michigan?

  • In the absence of accessible, reliable public transportation 7 days a week year-round, the undocumented immigrants need to drive to work, school, church, medical appointments, grocery-shopping, and purchase goods and services out of their immediate areas.

  1. How can driver’s licenses be restored for the undocumented immigrants?

  • The Drive Safe bills (2019) were introduced as a legislative remedy in the Michigan legislature. They were referred to the State House Committee on Transportation and the State Senate Committee on Government Operations. No hearings were held or actions taken.

  • Michigan legislators needed to sponsor and reintroduce the bills in the new legislative session.

  1. What is the current status of the Drive Safe bills?

  • In May 2021, the Drive Safe bills (2021) were re-introduced in the Michigan legislature. They consist of:

  • HB 4835 (driver’s license), sponsored by Rep. Padma Kuppa (D) of District 41 (Oakland county)

  • HB 4836 (state ID), sponsored by Rep. Rachel Hood (D) of District 76 (Kent county)

  • SB 433 (driver’s license), sponsored by Sen. Stephanie Chang (D) of District 1 (Wayne county)

  • SB 434 (state ID), sponsored by Sen. Winnie Brinks (D) of District 29 (Kent county)

  • The House bills were referred to the MI House Committee on Rules & Competitiveness, chaired by Rep. Jim Lilly (R) of District 89 (Ottawa county), with minority vice-chair Sarah Anthony (D) of District 68 (Ingham county).

  • The Senate bills were referred to the MI Senate Committee on Transportation & Infrastructure, chaired by Sen. Tom Barrett (R) of District 24 (Clinton, Eaton, Ingham, Shiawassee counties), with minority vice-chair Erika Geiss (D) of District 6 (Wayne county)


May 2021

Sources:

Michigan Immigrant Rights Center. “Immigrants and Michigan Driver’s Licenses: Past, Present, and Future.” (2018)

Simon Marshall-Shah. “Taking Our Foot Off the Brakes: Why Driver’s Licenses For All Makes Sense”. Michigan League for Public Policy (2019)

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