Group plans protest over drivers licenses for undocumented workers
Caroline MacGregor October 22, 2012 | WGVU
A group of West Michigan residents plans to rally in protest of Michigan Secretary of State Ruth Johnson for her refusal to issue driver’s
licenses to beneficiaries of President Obama's new federal policy for undocumented
immigrants who entered this country as children.
The Secretary of State's Office announced this month that under the Deferred
Action for Childhood Arrivals policy, beneficiaries are not considered “legally present”
in the United States, a requirement Johnson says is necessary for obtaining a
Michigan driver’s license.
Attorney Robert A. Alvarez, co-founder of Avanti Law
Group, understands the legal issues but doesn’t like Johnson’s position. He
says it doesn’t make sense that young immigrants can attend work and school but
not be able to drive to work or school. He questions the United States
Citizenship and Immigration Services for not giving them legal status.
As far as issuing drivers licenses, spokesman for the Michigan Secretary of State's Office, Fred
Woodhams, says they have no choice in the matter.
“Our hands are tied by state law which specifically requires us to make sure these people are legally here in the United States and these people lack legal presence to do so, or they lack the documents we require and so our hands are tied in terms of issuing licenses and id cards, we're just not able to under state law."
Minimum requirements to obtain a Michigan driver license
include having a green card, documented visa, or proof of citizenship.
So far, about 46-hundred young undocumented immigrants
have been approved under Obama’s deferred action plan, receiving a two year
reprieve from deportation and the opportunity to apply for a work permit. About 1.3million could qualify for the
program. The group protesting the Secretary of State’s position
will gather Wednesday outside the Secretary of State Branch office at Rogers
Plaza in Wyoming.
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