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One Michigan Undocumented Youth file lawsuit against Secretary of State Ruth Johnson over Driver’s Licenses

December 20, 2012

The undocumented immigrant movement continues to put pressure on the state government over the issue of having the right to obtain a drivers license in Michigan.signs

We reported on an action in early November where several hundred immigrants and allies came to Lansing to confront Gov. Snyder on the position that Secretary of State Ruth Johnson has taken and we reported on a packed Grand Rapids City Commission meeting where the immigrant community once again was putting pressure on government officials to support their desire to have access to a Michigan drivers license in early December.

Yesterday, the group One Michigan for Immigrant Rights sent out the following press release with details of a lawsuit filed against Secretary of State Ruth Johnson.

One Michigan for Immigrant Rights will be represented by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) in a lawsuit against Michigan Secretary of State Ruth Johnson challenging the ban on driver’s licenses for recipients of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program.

As an undocumented youth-led organization, members of One Michigan were excited about the doors that DACA opened for them, including the opportunity to work, attend school, and obtain identification. This past summer, in a coordinated effort with other national partners such as the National Immigrant Youth Alliance (NIYA), we were instrumental in pushing for DACA program announced by President Obama on June 15, 2012. On October 8, Johnson announced that the state would deny driver’s licenses and personal identification cards to those authorized to live and work in the United States under DACA, reestablishing many of the barriers placed before undocumented youth in our state. In response to this policy, One Michigan in conjunction with the ACLU and other DACA-eligible individuals filed a lawsuit on December 19, 2012 with the U.S. district court to ensure immigrant youth authorized to work in the U.S. can drive. aclu_litigation

One Michigan member Xochitl Cossyleon, 19, of Detroit, MI was devastated when she found out about Johnson’s policy, and felt like DACA was pointless without being able to drive to work and school.  For Xochitl, getting a driver’s license was the main point of applying for DACA. 

This policy has been extremely detrimental to the immigrant community in Michigan, because it has discouraged many DACA eligible candidates from applying and becoming productive tax-paying residents of the State of Michigan.  This has caused organizations like One Michigan to divert their attention from offering workshops for DACA applicants to organizing to reverse Ruth Johnson’s illegal policy. 

It is the hope of One Michigan and their partners in this lawsuit that Ruth Johnson will recognize that allowing DACA recipients to obtain driver’s licenses and identification cards is not only the right thing to do, but her obligation under the law. We will not rest until this policy is reversed, our community is safe, and the undocumented youth of our state are able to work, go to school, and support our families.


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