Whitmer appears to back undocumented immigrant driver licenses

    Rally for undocumented immigrants in Detroit | Ken Coleman
    Updated 2:35 p.m. 8/5/19 with comments from Whitmer spokesperson

    Following last week’s Democratic presidential debates in Detroit, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer appeared to signal support for Michigan offering driver licenses to undocumented immigrants. 

    Gretchen Whitmer | Andrew Roth

    Whitmer was asked about the subject by a member of immigrant rights group Movimento Cosecha, which helped organize a pro-immigration protest outside the debates. 

    “We need to ensure that everyone’s got a path to getting a license so they’ve got identification,” Whitmer said. “That’s something that’s important to me, it’s important to our economy, it’s important to the people of Michigan.”

    In 2008, the Michigan Legislature banned the practice of issuing licenses to undocumented immigrants.

    “The Governor supports a path for undocumented immigrants to get an identification and would support legislation to do so,” Whitmer spokeswoman Tiffany Brown said in an email on Monday afternoon.*

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    Whitmer also noted that Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson and Attorney General Dana Nessel, both Democrats, support issuing licenses to undocumented immigrants. 

    Thirteen states and the District of Columbia offer driver licenses to undocumented immigrants, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. 

    Nick Manes
    Nick Manes covers West Michigan, business and labor, health care and the safety net. He previously spent six years as a reporter at MiBiz covering commercial real estate, economic development and all manner of public policy at the local and state levels. His byline also has appeared in Route Fifty and The Daily Beast. When not reporting around the state or furiously tweeting, he enjoys spending time with his girlfriend, Krista, biking around his hometown of Grand Rapids and torturing himself rooting for the Detroit Lions.


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