Michigan Denies Drivers Licenses To Deferred Action Participants

Three months after President Obama’s administration implemented the deferred action for childhood arrivals plan, Michigan has joined Arizona and Nebraska in denying drivers licenses to individuals who qualify for the program. While DACA is meant to help undocumented youth work and study in the United States, a lack of access to drivers licenses complicates their efforts, according to Niraj Warikoo’s recent Detroit Free Press article.

The decision was made by Ruth Johnson, Michigan’s Secretary of State, who ordered her employees to not grant licenses to individuals with deferred action papers. In recent years, the legislature enacted tougher requirements that have made it difficult for other classifications of immigrants to get Michigan drivers licenses. Johnson’s announcement could affect up to 23,000 deferred action applicants living in the state, according to the source.

Officials cite the decision on both the USCIS and Department of Homeland Security’s explanations that deferred action does not provide legal status for these individuals.

“Michigan law requires legal presence, that someone be here legally,” Gisgie Gendreau, Johnson’s spokeswoman, told the Free Press. “The federal government has said that DACA does not grant legal status, so we can’t issue a driver’s license or state ID to DACA participants. We rely on the feds to determine whether someone is here legally or not. We’re just following their direction.”

Immigrant advocates disagree with the ruling, and believe that although participants do not have legal status in the United States, their DACA status means they have legal presence. As Michigan’s economy is currently experiencing a weak economy and declining population, many believe that not granting drivers licenses to immigrants will only make matters worse.

This article is brought to you by Immigration Direct, a trusted resource for matters related to the government’s deferred action program. Take the Free Deferred Action Eligibility Quiz online today.