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Things You Can Do Right Now to Support Immigrants and Refugees in Michigan
1. Wear a safety pin, but if you’re able, don’t let that be the only thing you do.
2. Find ways to join or support organizations that advocate for the most affected communities and defend constitutional rights: MIRC and Welcoming Michigan, the ACLU of Michigan, Michigan United, One Michigan, and the Michigan Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights to name just a few that are statewide. Learn about the Arab American Community Center for Economic and Social Services (ACCESS) Take on Hate initiative. Make sure you’re on whatever action alert lists you need to be on.
3. Know that the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program is “on the list” to be eliminated in the first 100 days of the new administration. Learn about DACA – United We Dream has good information. Think about leaders at all levels whom you could ask to be champions for people who have DACA status and get in touch with them about it. Many with DACA have shared their stories in the press – start learning those stories.
4. Thank Republican State Rep. David Pagel for his co-sponsorship of HB 5940 and 5941 that would extend driver’s license and ID eligibility to all immigrants in Michigan, regardless of status. He represents District 78 which includes parts of Cass and Berrien Counties. Figure out who you know who lives there and ask them to thank him for his courageous and authentic leadership. Ask him to support the bills again next session.
5. Ask your own state legislators to support the driver’s license bills (HB 5940 and 5941) and co-sponsor them with lead sponsor State Rep. Stephanie Chang next session. Encourage Republicans to talk with their colleague Rep. Pagel about the reasons for his support.
6. Approach your local refugee resettlement office about how you can support refugees and refugee inclusion. Consider forming a team to sponsor a local family – you don’t have to be a church to do it. Major refugee resettlement agencies in Michigan include Bethany Christian Services, Samaritas, USCRI, Catholic Charities of Southeastern Michigan, St. Vincent Catholic Charities and Jewish Family Services.
7. Approach your own faith leader to share this list and make sure they are connected with their national denomination or faith group’s advocacy arm on immigrant and refugee rights issues. These include the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Justice for Immigrants initiative, Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society, Lutheran Immigrant and Refugee Services, the United Methodist Committee on Relief, and so on. Ask your faith leader to work in your diocese or district to develop a more active and more engaged plan to respond to immigrant needs and issues locally.
9. Print out a copy of the Michigan Immigrant Service Provider Reference Guide available under the “RESOURCES” tab on the MIRC website, michiganimmigrant.org, so that you know how to access services you or your friends may need in the future. Find our “Preparing Your Family for Immigration Enforcement” guide in our Know Your Rights folder and share it with families who need it. It is available in English and Spanish.
10. If your community has a Municipal ID program (Washtenaw and soon Detroit) get one, even if/ESPECIALLY if you have another ID. Advocate for a Municipal ID program like Washtenaw County’s ID program in your community. If you know people in other states where undocumented people have driver’s licenses, encourage people you know who are U.S. citizens to turn in their regular driver’s licenses and get the “no proof of status” licenses.
11. Share this list with anyone else you think will have ears and a heart for it!
Bills Introduced in Michigan House That Would Expand Access to Driver's Licenses
On September 22, 2016, Representatives Harvey Santana and Stephanie Chang introduced bills in the Michigan House of Representatives that would permit residents to apply for Michigan driver's licenses and state ID cards without submitting proof of citizenship or immigration status. This had been the state's policy until 2008. For MIRC's analysis of the bills, please see our Legislative Alert here.
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