March 13 2013 12:00 AM

Roughly 200 people rally at the Capitol to support driver’s licenses for undocumented students

Andrea Raby/City Pulse

Friday, Nov. 9 — Buses from around the state arrived at the Capitol today to oppose the Michigan secretary of state’s policy of denying driver’s licenses for those who qualify for a federal work program for undocumented students.

Roughly 200 people rallied to call on Secretary of State Ruth Johnson and Gov. Rick Snyder to grant driver’s licenses to students who qualify for President Obama’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program.

“What’s the point of having a work permit if you can’t drive to work?” said Roxanne Rodriguez, a student organizer from Wayne State University.

Rodriguez said buses came from the University of Michigan, Western Michigan University, Wayne State, Detroit and Grand Rapids to support the rally.

The Alliance for Immigrants Rights and Reform organized the demonstration. Organizers said Michigan and Arizona are the only states that have not approved driver’s licenses for young people protected under the federal DREAM Act.

Rally participants gave speeches about their experiences growing up as undocumented immigrants. Some had parents who were deported because they were caught driving without a license.

The speakers also commented on the economic value of allowing them to drive. More drivers would allow for more car sales, insurance sales and general sales surrounding the car industry.

The rally also addressed what participants called blatant harassment from Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents. Rodriguez said ICE agents in Detroit have been stopping parents when trying to get their children to and from school.

After the rally, supporters marched into the Capitol and delivered their petition and demanded Johnson meet with them sometime in the future.

Many that are not personally affected by this issue turned up to support the cause as well.

“It’s the way to be a good democracy. This is just wrong. We need to stop it,” said the Rev. Jacquelyn Ahern from the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. She said she believes that licenses are necessary for young immigrants to work in our society.

“They were brought here as tiny babies, they grew up here, they went to school here — we need to find a way to get them documented,” Ahern said. “Let dreamers drive so they can get to work.”