HB 4794 & 4795 (2017)

Michigan Immigrant Rights Center

Legislative Alert: House Bill 4794 & 4795

June 20th, 2017

HB 4794 & HB 4795


Primary Sponsor HB 4794: Stephanie Chang (D-District 6)

Primary Sponsor HB 4795: David Pagel (R-District 78)

Other Sponsors: David LaGrand (D-District 75), Yousef Rabhi (D-District 53), Jon Hoadley (D-District 60), Kristy Pagan (D-District 21), Vanessa Guerra (D-District 95), Erika Geiss (D-District 12), Robert Wittenberg (D-District 27), Tim Sneller (D-District 50), Jim Ellison (D-District 26), Abdullah Hammoud (D-District 15), Terry Sabo (D-District 92), Henry Yanez (D-District 25), Jeremy Moss (D-District 35), and Martin Howrylak (R-District 41) (Leslie Love in support of HB 4795, D-District 10).

Bill Status: Introduced and referred to Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure June 20, 2017.

Bill Summary: These bills would allow both immigrants and non-immigrants to seek state-identification and driver's licenses, after proving residency in Michigan, regardless of their immigration status. These bills provide for not only immigrants, but includes elderly, those born in rural areas, foreign-adoptees, and citizens born to Americans in different countries who may not have access to their birth certificates. HB 4794 would modify the section of the Michigan Vehicle Code relating to driver's licenses and HB 4795 would modify the section relating to state identification.

Background and Analysis: These bills are nearly identical to bills introduced last year (HB 5940 and HB 5941). Since 2008, Michigan has required applicants for driver's licenses and state identification to provide proof of U.S. citizenship or immigration status. This change has had significant consequences for all who use the roads.

Michigan law does not currently provide driver's licenses to individuals who do not have legal immigration status, and many people who are U.S. citizens or in lawful immigration status have struggled to prove it or obtain verification. Significant delay may occur while the Secretary of State verifies certain categories of immigration documents with United States Citizenship and Immigration Services through their Systematic Alien Verification for Entitlements (SAVE) program and non-citizens who hold those statuses are often unable to hold driver's licenses during verification or re-verification periods.

Twelve states, plus the District of Columbia, have laws which allow some form of legal driving without proof of immigration status. Approximately 37% of undocumented immigrants in the United States live in a jurisdiction that allows them to obtain a driver's license.  No bill to restore licenses to immigrant drivers who lost them in 2008 has ever been introduced in the Michigan Legislature prior to these bills.

These bills do not relate to voting or voter registration.  Only U.S. citizens may vote.  Many noncitizens already hold driver's licenses and state identification. No identification is absolutely required to register to vote or vote in Michigan.   (So, expanding access to identification does not create any new opportunities for unlawful activity relating to voting.)

The bills would:

  • Allow citizens and currently eligible immigrants who lack the documentation required by the Secretary of State to get licenses and state IDs.
  • Widen the insurance pool, lowering costs for all Michigan residents, further mitigated by fewer claims from unlicensed and uninsured drivers.
  • Promote public safety by ensuring that drivers are trained, screened and tested; law enforcement will be able to more efficiently and effectively identify individuals they stop.
  • Increase workforce and economic participation by making it easier for individuals to work, go to to the grocery store, doctor, rent an apartment, access health care, purchase insurance, etc.
  • Increase state revenue through vehicle registration, and taxes on insurance premiums and car purchases.

MIRC's original legislative alert on SB 501 can be found on our website

MIRC supports HB 4794 and 4795 because of the strong and frequently expressed desire of all of Michigan's immigrant communities to have access to driver's licenses and identification regardless of status.