Grand Rapids City Council Backs Driver’s Licenses for Illegal Aliens



On March 17, The Grand Rapids, Michigan, City Council unanimously passed a resolution calling on the state to make driver’s licenses available to illegal aliens. As things currently stand, 15 states and the District of Columbia offer driver’s licenses to illegal aliens. In order for the council to get their wish, the Michigan state legislature would have to approve the measure.

The council compiled a list of what they believe this measure will accomplish. Unsurprisingly, they ignore how this resolution could impact lawful residents, and instead focuses on how it will make life easier for illegal aliens. The truth is, most of the perceived “benefits” will actually harm the citizens of Grand Rapids.

First if all, the authors of this resolution claim that it will “provide access to basic public services such as enrolling children in school and participating in school activities with their children.” That is a moot point, as illegal aliens currently don’t need a driver’s license to enroll their children in public schools. A 1982 decision by the U.S. Supreme Court, Plyler v Doe, allows for the children of illegal aliens to enroll in public school regardless of whether their parents have state-issued forms of identification.

Ironically, public education is already a significant problem point for Grand Rapids. The city is currently dealing with overcrowded classrooms and a lack of teachers. Using public education to entice more illegal immigration into the city will only exacerbate this issue, and the children of lawful migrants and U.S. citizens will pay the price.

The city council also touted that the measure would reduce “fear of interacting with law enforcement.” But the logic here is twisted. Those who violate the law should expect to face consequences for their actions. What the council is actually implying here is that they hope to shield illegal aliens from federal law enforcement by offering them a false guise of legal presence in the form of a driver’s license.

Finally, they applaud that the program will “provide access to financial services such as opening a bank account.” This is largely accurate, as most banks require a state or federal government document proving name, date of birth and address, as well as a federal identification number. A state issued driver’s license covers the need for a government document, and most illegal aliens are able to obtain a federally-issued Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN), which meets the qualifications of a federal identification number with most banks.

But more illegal aliens taking up residence is bad news for the lawful residents of Grand Rapids. The Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR) estimates that each illegal alien in Michigan cost state taxpayers approximately $4,400 annually. Additionally, FAIR estimates that illegal aliens remit approximately 20 percent of their incomes back to their home countries. That means less money is spent on goods and services in the community, which harms local businesses, and fewer taxes are collected to provide basic services such as fire and police protection.

City council members are supposed to be the first line of defense for citizens at the local level. Unfortunately, the officials elected to represent Grand Rapids have instead decided that the comfort of federal lawbreakers is more important than the interests and safety of the citizens they were elected to represent.

About Author

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Spencer joined the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR) in 2015. He conducts research, and writes content for FAIR’s publications and website. He brings previous experience in state politics, gubernatorial and district campaigns, and D.C. political non-profits. Spencer holds a B.A. in Government from the University of Texas at Austin.

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