LANSING, Mich. (WLNS) — Hundreds of advocates from around the state are gathering in Lansing Tuesday to push for legislation to allow immigrants to get driver’s licenses, regardless of immigration status.
The initiative is being put together by “Strangers No Longer,” a group of Catholics throughout the state in an effort to support immigrants and refugees.
It all started around 9 a.m. Tuesday, and more than 160 attendees split up to meet with each of their legislators in hopes to achieve one common goal.
Advocates say there are more than 100,000 people who live here, raise children here, and pay taxes here, who don’t have access to a driver’s license or a state ID.
They added that without it, it’s hard to do basic everyday tasks, like driving to work, taking children to school, or even going to the grocery store.
Advocates say the effort has been an uphill battle.
“For the last five legislative sessions, the bills haven’t even gotten out of the committee. This is the year because of the change in power in Congress in November,” said Rich Faba, advocacy chair for Strangers No Longer. “We feel that we have more support than we’ve ever had in the past.”
In Michigan, people were eligible for these forms of identification until 2008, when it was taken away from them.
Although there have been bills introduced to help reinstate the eligibility, nothing’s been passed yet.
Organizers say they’re looking to change that.
“It’s very important because we have thousands and thousands of people contributing to our economy, working in our restaurants and in our fields, in our hotels, who cannot drive legally,” continued Faba. “Yet, we want them to support our economy and pay taxes in our economy.”
Opponents of the legislation say legal licenses should be a privilege for American citizens only.
The advocates said they aren’t done yet. They’re still planning on meeting with other legislators throughout the day to try and get this initiative heard by legislators.
Currently, 16 states allow undocumented immigrants to get a driver’s license.