FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
(Lansing, Mich.) — At a press event held online today, Michigan Catholic Conference joined with advocacy organizations calling on lawmakers to support measures that would provide state identification cards and driver’s licenses to undocumented immigrants. Citing the Catholic Church’s overarching principle of upholding the human dignity of all people, MCC believes the driver’s license policy is compassionate and makes common sense in terms of ensuring people and children can safely make their way to work, school, church, the grocery store, medical appointments and other activities that require transportation from one place to another.
“Denying individuals the ability to drive impacts their opportunity to work, to take care of children, to further an education, or assist a sick relative,” Tom Hickson, MCC Vice President for Advocacy and Public Policy, stated at the event. “Not only is this a matter of simple human dignity, it is also a safety issue: denying nearly 100,000 people the ability to obtain a driver’s license increases the risk of auto accidents due to a lack of knowledge of the rules of the road.”
Legislation referred to as “Drive SAFE” has been introduced in the form of Senate Bills 433 and 434, sponsored by Senators Stephanie Chang (D-Detroit) and Willie Brinks (D-Grand Rapids). Similar legislation is expected to be introduced in the House of Representatives today by Representatives Rachel Hood (D-Grand Rapids) and Padma Kuppa (D-Troy). The Drive SAFE package would make specially designated noncommercial Michigan driver’s licenses and state identification cards available to applicants who do not have proof of U.S. citizenship, but can prove their identity and Michigan residency.
Together with the broader Church across the country, Michigan Catholic Conference has supported a driver’s license policy for undocumented persons over several legislative sessions, since 2008 when Michigan’s current policy was enacted. Failed efforts to reform the nation’s immigration problems have resulted in patchwork approaches by states, whereas, according to the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, comprehensive immigration reform is necessary to ensure the reunification of families, to move people into permanent residency status, and to promote the universal notion of human dignity that is not reliant upon a person’s legal classification.
Below is a transcript of the full comments provided by Hickson at today’s news event. Michigan Catholic Conference is the official public policy voice of the Catholic Church in this state.
Comments of Tom Hickson, MCC Vice President for Advocacy and Public Policy
Michigan Catholic Conference is pleased today, for the fourth session in a row, to support a policy change that is common sense, compassionate and will improve public safety. Since 2008, Michigan has had a policy in place that prohibits neighbors, friends and family the ability to obtain a permit to drive a vehicle simply because of their status.
Gridlock in Congress has failed to produce comprehensive solutions to address our immigration laws. At the same time, there are already many undocumented people who work in our communities, attend church services, and have children in our schools, just like everyone else. In fact, many of these individuals were actually front line warriors for the rest of us, and continue to help Michigan get through the pandemic. They deserve our respect and gratitude.
We are here today because this is an issue of human dignity. Denying individuals the ability to drive impacts their opportunity to work, to take care of children, to further an education, or assist a sick relative. Everyone deserves to be able to care for their families and in a state that is the home of the Motor City, you need to drive to do that.
Not only is this a matter of simple human dignity, it is also a safety issue. Denying nearly 100,000 people the ability to obtain a driver’s license increases the risk of auto accidents because of a lack of knowledge of the rules of the road. It also increases insurance costs for the rest of us.
Thankfully, Senators Chang and Brinks, and Representatives Hood and Kuppa have introduced legislation, (SBs 433–434) long supported by MCC, to allow undocumented residents of our state to take driver’s training and legally be able to operate a vehicle on Michigan’s roads.
It is very important to note, that this policy does not grant any undocumented person the ability to vote, or otherwise obtain privileges of U.S. Citizenship. Discussions of that nature can only occur through federal action. These bills, however, represent one small step that will increase safety on our roads, protect Michigan citizens, but most importantly treats people with the human dignity they deserve to provide for their families. We applaud the bill sponsors for their leadership on this issue and look forward to working with them to get this legislation enacted.
Michigan Catholic Conference is the official public policy voice of the Catholic Church in this state.
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