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Michigan Will Issue Drivers’ Licenses to Illegal Immigrants

February 20, 2013

I guess the discussion is now: did Barack Obama just make it legal to be an illegal immigrant if one is a minor in school or arrived in the country as a minor and is under 30 years of age?  Michigan used to be a state that refused to give an illegal immigrant a driver’s license, for reasons I don’t know.  Maybe a driver’s license is some form of identification that conveys legal citizenry?  Maybe it was a perk somehow?

I do know that many illegal immigrants drove in Michigan without a license or insurance, and it caused problems.  People who get hit by people who don’t have insurance get no reimbursement for damage from the other person’s insurance company, and I think this was why we have no-fault auto insurance, kind of a step-in for acknowledging those who refuse to get insurance.  That might change here in Michigan if illegal immigrants are allowed to get a driver’s license, which would then allow them to purchase auto insurance.  Critics will say that people who are in this country illegally won’t purchase insurance unless forced.  Of course there is the argument that getting a driver’s license will make it easier to track people who don’t follow the laws.

Illegal immigrants brought to the country as children can start applying for Michigan driver’slicenses and state IDs this weekSecretary of State Ruth Johnson’s office will begin accepting applications Tuesday.

President Barack Obama last year announced a policy letting illegal immigrants apply for temporary work permits if they were brought to the U.S. as children. But a small number of states including Michigan resisted allowing those immigrants to have driver’s licenses. Johnson, a Republican, changed her mind recently ago after the Obama administration clarified the younger immigrants’ legal status.

To be eligible, immigrants must prove they arrived in the U.S. before they turned 16, are 30 or younger, have been living in the country at least five years and are in school, have graduated or served in the military.

So I guess the question is: does entering the country illegally as a minor mean you are legal if you are in school, or is this just a way to register people with a government office to track them?  Maybe it’s just a way to allow younger people to have a license so they do get driver’s training. Too soon to tell, but it always makes you wonder what motivated a big change like this.  According to a news report, the State of Michigan now believes that the formerly illegal immigrants have now been granted legal status for two years, and so they will get a driver’s license with an expiration date.

Johnson reversed her position in February after U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services clarified that DACA recipients are, in fact, legally present. The new driver’s licenses will have a different design. The expiration date will match the expiration date on their work permits.

Discussion boards lit up on this, and apparently the news article may not have reported this quite accurately:

Sandra – Mr. Richards got back to me and said, “because a grant of deferred action does not confer lawful immigration status, or alter an existing immigration status, an individual is still considered an illegal immigrant during the 2 year deferred period”.

So – they are still considered “illegal” immigrants.

According to commentary, the status of the immigrant is still considered illegal, but they have two years here gratuitously, and I am not sure what they are supposed to accomplish in that time frame.  Do they reapply for legal status?  If they have a job, is the status renewed or deferred action renewed? Deferred action is just that, delayed not dismissed, so technically the only legal right they have been granted is the ability to drive.

Driver's license test

Driver’s license test (Photo credit: KOMUnews)

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