LANSING, Mich. May 17, 2021 – State Reps. Rachel Hood (D-Grand Rapids) Padma Kuppa (D-Troy) introduced a pair of bills to expand access to driver’s licenses and state identification cards for Michigan residents.
HB 4835 and HB 4836 allow for individuals who satisfy residency requirements in Michigan, can satisfactorily prove their identity but cannot produce records to verify lawful presence to access driver’s licenses or state identification cards. The bills would impact a wide variety of residents, such as the elderly who may have lost records through their lives, individuals on visas, undocumented people and their families and the children of U.S. service members who are born on foreign bases. By passing these bills, Michigan would be joining 14 other states and the District of Columbia by eliminating barriers that prevent access to driver’s licenses and state identification cards.
“These bills will bring a positive impact to many Michiganders who lack the documents to prove their lawful presence in the United States and are unable to access driver’s licenses or state IDs,” Hood said. “This barrier makes it difficult, even impossible, for people to do basic things, like go to the grocery store, drive to work or drop their kids off to school. Immigrants and undocumented people are important contributors to our economy and our communities, and I am proud to advocate for them with these bills.”
The legislation requires that any card issued under the new sections clearly state on its face that it’s not for federal purposes or voting. However, the cards would alleviate difficulties for law enforcement that may arise out of routine traffic stops, provide stability to the workforces in industries such as agriculture and improve roadway safety by increasing driver’s training participation.
“This is an issue that also impacts documented immigrants, such as those on H1B, H4 or L1 visas. Many of them are unable to obtain driver’s licenses or state identification cards during the immigration process, which can take several years,” said Rep. Kuppa. “As an immigrant myself, I hear these stories regularly from people who hail from all over the state. In addition to input from faith leaders, law enforcement, and the agriculture sector, the stories make it clear that these obstacles harm many and benefit no one. It’s time we stop holding Michigan’s residents and economy back. With these bills, we can finally drive Michigan forward.”
Both bills were referred to the House Rules & Competitiveness Committee, where they await a hearing.