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Movimiento Cosecha GR asks the City of Grand Rapids to pass a resolution in favor of drivers licenses for the undocumented community

October 23, 2019

Last night 18 people spoke during the public comment at the Grand Rapids City Commission meeting to encourage the commissioners to pass a resolution that would endorse the statewide campaign known as Drivers Licenses for All.

Some people spoke in Spanish and some in English. Those who spoke addressed all aspects – safety, economic, mobility, social and how having a drivers license would significantly reduce the fear of being detained by ICE – of the Drivers Licenses for All campaign, which you can read in both English and Spanish at the document linked here

One of the organizers with Movimiento Cosecha GR, Gema Lowe, shared a story about a friend who was stopped by police and then arrested for not having a drivers license. The woman who was stopped has children, which also meant that those children experienced trauma because their mother was arrested and detained by ICE.

Gema also told the commission that she recently had surgery and had to ask friends and family to driver her daughter to school, so she knows how important it is for immigrants to be able to obtain a license and meet the needs of their families.

Cosecha organizers from Kalamazoo also spoke, since Kalamazoo recently passed a resolution at the city and county level, demonstrating that local government bodies can indeed support these kinds of efforts.

Sr. Klingman, a member of the Grand Rapids Dominicans, addressed the commission and and urged them to support the resolution. Her religious order has endorsed the Drivers Licenses for All campaign and believes this issue is critical if the city believes in equity and justice for all.

There were several other people who spoke during public comment, who came to address other issues, but added that they too supported Cosecha’s desire to have the City pass a resolution in support of Drivers Licenses for All. One of those who spoke was Russ Olmstead, who is on the board of Equity PAC. He read a document from the city, which made clear that the city government must support the drivers licenses campaign, based on City’s own previous statements.

Commissioner O’Connor read a letter sent by the Mayor in April in support of changing the law in Michigan to allow undocumented immigrants to obtain drivers licenses. O’Connor read it in such a way to suggest that they don’t need to do anything. Two commissioners followed up this comment by suggesting that the letter should be made into a resolution that could be adopted by the City Commission.


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