License in Michigan Denied for Deferred Action Recipients

Last month, Michigan’s Secretary of State Ruth Johnson ordered DMV employees to not issue driver’s licenses to undocumented immigrants granted Deferred Action, DACA.  Most states are still considering whether or not to approve it.

DACA, which was mandated through the executive order of President Obama just three months ago, can grant driver’s licenses to recipients if states OK it. The program primarily lets undocumented youth who are younger than 30 and who came to the country before the age of 16 live without fear of deportation for two years while receiving an employment authorization. There are 23,000 undocumented people living in Michigan who could be eligible for DACA.

There are now three states with legislation denying licenses to DACA recipients: Arizona, Nebraska and Michigan. Gisgie Gendreau, spokeswoman for Johnson-R, said Johnson’s decision was made on the basis of recent Michigan law, which says that the issuance of a driver’s license requires legal presence. DACA does not provide recipients with legal status.

California, the state with the largest undocumented immigrant population, has approved the issuing of driver’s licenses to DACA youth.  Immigrant right groups celebrated the move by California Governor Jerry Brown-D. California was the first state to sign its driver’s license bill in accordance with DACA. The decision was based mostly on ensuring the safety of all California drivers.

Prior to the announcement of DACA, Washington state and New Mexico already required undocumented drivers get driver’s licenses.