September 17, 2020

Criminal defense: Advocates want driver’s licenses for immigrants

People who immigrate to the United States do so for many reasons, but most want to improve the lives of themselves and their families. Sometimes there are obstacles that can make it difficult for them to do so, including obtaining a driver’s license. If an immigrant needs to drive to get to work, but is unable to get a driver’s license, he or she may be at risk of running into legal trouble, especially if the individual is involved in any kind of traffic incident that may require criminal defense. An immigrant rights group recently staged a protest at the state Capitol, arguing that all Michigan residents, regardless of immigration status, should be able to obtain a driver’s license.

The recent protest was staged by Movimiento Cosecha Michigan and included almost 100 demonstrators. The protestors gathered in the Capitol, advocating for the Drive SAFE (Safety, Access, Freedom and the Economy) plan. The plan says that any Michigan resident of the proper age should be eligible to either receive a state-issued ID or apply for a driver’s license. Some worry that the corresponding senate and house bills may have difficulty being passed before the end of the year.

Several people at the protest said that they have personal experience in this matter, saying that having a driver’s license makes a significant difference for immigrants. Not having one makes it difficult to get insurance, obtain employment and be identified in the case of an emergency. Others worry that being stopped while driving and not having a license could be cause for deportation.

One thing that is certain is how much of a difference having a driver’s license can make to an immigrant. Any person involved in a traffic incident could have serious legal trouble if he or she does not have a license, and that difficulty would be even more pronounced for someone who may have an uncertain legal immigration status. Those here in Michigan who need assistance with criminal defense in this type of situation may want to reach out to an attorney for guidance.