LANSING – State Representative Stephanie Chang (D-Detroit)  introduced a bill today that would allow Michigan residents who maintain a home and meet the definition of residence in Michigan, but may not be citizens or able to prove lawful presence, to receive a drivers’ license. The bill would cover undocumented workers; immigrants; elderly people, particularly those of rural origins whose births may not have been properly recorded or whose records were lost; U.S. citizens born abroad to American families (common in military families) and foreign adoptees. 

“Every day in this state and in my district, which includes Southwest Detroit, thousands of people get in their cars and drive without a license or insurance,” said Chang. “This is not because they want to break the law, but because Michigan law will not allow them to obtain drivers’ licenses. It is bad policy and a danger to anyone driving on Michigan roads. My bill would ensure that all Michiganders are subject to the same standards, training and testing before they get behind the wheel. It will allow residents who are currently unable to get licenses to be able to go to work, drive their children to school, attend church, and go grocery shopping without fear that they will end up in jail simply for driving.”

Currently 10 states plus the District of Columbia have laws to permit some form of legal driving without proof of immigration status.

Chang’s bill, House Bill 5940, states that the Michigan Secretary of State shall promulgate rules in cooperation with law enforcement, immigrants’ rights groups and other interested parties to issue a non-commercial driver’s license to applicants who satisfy all other requirements for a license under the Michigan Vehicle Code other than proof of legal presence. 

The bill was introduced during Welcoming Week, which is a national initiative to promote awareness of the importance of being welcoming to all members of our communities.