Duly Noted

Immigrant rights groups welcome Secretary of State decision to grant drivers’ licenses to youth

The Alliance for Immigrant Rights welcomes the Feb. 1 decision by Michigan Secretary of State Ruth Johnson to grant drivers licenses to immigrant youth eligible under Obama Administration reforms enacted last summer. Secretary Johnson has agreed per the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) that immigrants covered under the President’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program are “lawfully present,” the technical designation necessary for granting drivers’ licenses. Young people active in the movement for immigration reform can claim victory for making sure the state recognized their rights to drive under the new reforms.

“This validates our efforts. It is great that we can now make use of the work permits granted under DACA,” said Sergio Martinez, a DREAM youth and AIR volunteer organizer. “Moreover, we students can make use of our hard won educations and begin to fulfill our dreams which include continuing momentum for justice for our families with comprehensive immigration reform.”

On April 10, 2013, the immigrant rights movement intends to march at the nation’s capital in support of comprehensive re-forms including a path to citizenship and allowing those separated from their families to rejoin them.

“Those of us from Michigan will be marching in D.C. with a bit more enthusiasm after this,” said Raquel Garcia Andersen, AIR organizer. “It’s one thing to know immigration reform is the right thing for our families and communities and it’s another to win a solid victory. Young people can get to work and school without fear as well as drive to the march in April to work to keep our families safe.”

The Secretary of State’s decision was also applauded by the Hispanic/Latino Commission of Michigan, and by a coalition of civil rights organizations which had filed a federal lawsuit in December asking a court to rule that DACA recipients are legally authorized to be in the U.S. and, therefore, are eligible for licenses.  That coalition includes the American Civil Liberties Union, National Immigration Law Center and the law firm of Covington & Burling.

Tanya Broder, National Immigration Law Center senior attorney, said, “Michigan today reached a decision that is legally and morally sound. Their decision provides DREAMers with deferred action the opportunity to contribute more fully to their communities and to their families. Arizona and Nebraska, which continue to deny driver’s licenses to DREAMers, should take note: they are among a dwindling number of states that stand on the wrong side of history and the law.”