Michigan latest to refuse driver’s licenses to undocumented immigrants

Michigan announced the new policy amid debates surrounding immigration.

.LANSING, Mich. (AP) – Michigan will no longer let undocumented immigrants get driver’s licenses, a practice just seven other states continue to allow.

Michigan Secretary of State Terri Lynn Land, who oversees the state motor vehicle department, announced the new policy Monday and said it takes effect Tuesday. Some people who are in Michigan legally but not permanent residents also will be denied licenses unless state law is changed.

The change is aimed at complying with an opinion issued last month by Attorney General Mike Cox, who said granting licenses to undocumented immigrants is inconsistent with federal law. Opinions by the attorney general’s office are legally binding on state agencies and officers unless reversed by the courts.

The new policy applies to first-time applicants for a Michigan driver’s license or identification card. Updated procedures for renewals soon will be released.

Hawaii, Maine, Maryland, New Mexico, Oregon, Utah and Washington do not require drivers to prove legal status to obtain a license.

Driver’s licenses are among several hot-button issues surrounding the ongoing debate over immigration. New York Gov. Eliot Spitzer last year proposed allowing undocumented immigrants to get licenses, but withdrew the idea under heavy criticism.