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Posted on Wed, Jan 23, 2013 : 6:17 p.m.

Skyline High School student hopes Michigan will let him drive

By Cindy Heflin

Editor's note: Javier Contreras' first name has been corrected.

Ann Arbor Skyline High School senior Javier Contreras has grown up in Michigan, but he’s not allowed to drive here.

Contreras is a plaintiff in a lawsuit filed by the American Civil Liberties Union against Michigan Secretary of State Ruth Johnson, who ruled in October that undocumented immigrants who can stay in the United States under an Obama Administration program called Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals cannot be issued Michigan driver’s licenses.

But there is new hope that the rule will be changed, The Detroit News reported. The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services agency on Friday clarified that the policy that grants temporary work permits and Social Security cards to undocumented immigrants gives them "legal presence" in the country, The News reported.

Cantreras, who came with his parents from Mexico when he was 4 years old, was recently featured in an ABC News/Univision video. In the video, he speaks about his involvement at Skyline where he was crowned homecoming king last fall, and his connection to the community. But he says he may have to move to another state because getting a job and attending college will be much more difficult without a license.

  • Watch the video below or read the article on ABC News/Univision's website:

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Fri, Jan 25, 2013 : 12:28 a.m.

OMG! This is what is wrong with America. Letting illegals come here illegally and force the justice system to give him a drivers license? Heck no. Keep the law the way it is. Keep him and others like him under our judicial system and from the right to drive. Become a natural and those came here legally and got a license the legal way do. Sorry Jose, but no your status does not prevail in my book.


Thu, Jan 24, 2013 : 5:48 p.m.

New Mexico has allowed licenses for illegal immigrants and is now desperately trying to get rid of the idea. People from all over who are in this country illegally, from many countries, are coming to New Mexico just to get licenses. It has been a mess and Gov. Martinez is doing her best to delete or at least modify the practice. Soon New Mexico licenses will not be able to be used for ID at airports (this keeps getting delayed) because illegal immigrants may obtain them which is a pain in the neck for all. Again the ACLU is a pain on this issue. I just told a telephone solicitor from them that though I once supported the ACLU today I wouldn't give them a cent!


Thu, Jan 24, 2013 : 4:49 p.m.

I would think AA is one of the best places for a person without a license. I wonder how many states do issue licenses to illegal er excused/allowed immigrants?


Thu, Jan 24, 2013 : 4:12 p.m.

Why did his parents choose to come here illegally?


Thu, Feb 7, 2013 : 11:13 a.m.

Because they have no regard for our immigration system, they want the free benefits we give them for breaking our laws, they want to come the U.S.A. for what they can get, but they want to pledge their allegiance to their own countries, speak their own languages (and force us to be a bilingual nation) and fly their own flags. This is not, nor has it ever been, acceptable for immigrants, whether legal or illegal.

Snarf Oscar Boondoggle

Fri, Jan 25, 2013 : 3 a.m.

better living conditions ... worththe risk ... some downside but overall they are all better off. human capital (economics 101 ) and financial capital (econ 090 ) tends to "migrate" toward better opportunities/returns taking with them/it inherent risks. "t'was always thus."


Thu, Jan 24, 2013 : 3:57 p.m.

Is he eligible for auto insurance? Is he paying taxes that fund the roads he wants to drive on?


Thu, Jan 24, 2013 : 3:27 p.m.

Wasn't Ruth Johnson the one who put that check box on the ballot even though Snyder told her not too? She's nothing more than a right wing stooge...


Thu, Jan 24, 2013 : 3:06 p.m.

What steps has he taken to become a legal alien or citizen?


Thu, Jan 24, 2013 : 4:09 p.m.

The Deferred Action Plan is exactly that. It was just implemented this past fall for students who were brought here by their parents. There were requirements they had to meet including being successfully enrolled and attending school OR have already graduated. Before this, there was almost no option for an undocumented student whose parents are also undocumented. Because the DAP would give him the legal right to reside and work here in the U.S. for at least 2 years, he should be allowed to have a valid license as well. Immigrants who come with student visas or a business visa are allowed to have a license.

Ricardo Queso

Thu, Jan 24, 2013 : 2:30 p.m.

At least he can still vote without a license.


Thu, Jan 24, 2013 : 5:52 a.m.

Here's an idea. Become a citizen, become eligible for the privileges of citizenship, get your license. Problem solved.


Thu, Jan 24, 2013 : 1:29 p.m.

He could enlist the US military and serve a tour or two in order to become a legal citizen. Plus, if the military wants him to have a drivers' license, they will train him and give him one, after which Michigan will gladly re-issue him a state license. The restriction on giving drivers licenses to qualified (as drivers) but undocumented immigrants is really rather silly, but Javier could probably go get a license in Ohio instead.


Thu, Jan 24, 2013 : 1:25 p.m.

And exactly how is it that you think he is able to become a citizen? Illegal entry=no path to citizenship. Doesn't matter that he was 4yo.


Thu, Jan 24, 2013 : 12:11 p.m.

Why do you think non-citizens shouldn't be able to drive in our state?


Thu, Jan 24, 2013 : 5:49 a.m.

This is a Solution without a Problem? Sec of State Ruth Johnson is setting her sights to run for Governor and is appealing to the "No Nothings" is her party. Totally a D-U-M-B strategy, but, talking "reality" here, Ruthie is not that smart. She is encrusted with the guys who peddle "Legitimate Rape." A total Coo-Coo in MHO.


Thu, Jan 24, 2013 : 2:33 p.m.

Thou hast said it.


Thu, Jan 24, 2013 : 4:12 a.m.

Is the problem a government issued identification? I like Sellers idea to create an ID that documents the persons status while validating their driving privilege. Also, if he can get a driver's license from another state or even from Mexico where he is a citizen, he can then legally drive in Michigan. It does seem ridiculous to be required to go to such lengths.


Thu, Jan 24, 2013 : 3:17 a.m.

Legal issues aside, Michigan is hemorrhaging citizens. We need more people moving into this state, not to drive (no pun intended) people away. If we had any sense, we'd arrange for a few hundred thousand immigrants to gain citizenship if they move to Detroit for a decade.


Thu, Jan 24, 2013 : 4:52 p.m.

I agree that fixing those problems are paramount, but with crummy weather and higher taxes than states like Texas, Nevada, and Florida, there's little reason for people to move here. If Detroit could get its act together, it could be a magnet city like Atlanta or Chicago, but relying on Detroit to fix itself is akin to self immolation. If there are jobs people will move here, just like they have in the past, but employers the size of Ford or GM are hard to come by.

Silly Sally

Thu, Jan 24, 2013 : 1:37 p.m.

Why not fix the reason why people are leaving Michigan Why turn Michigan over to foreigners? Should we become another California or South Texas?

Macabre Sunset

Thu, Jan 24, 2013 : 4:06 a.m.

While that sounds like a great idea, thinking about it, I'd worry that it's a violation of the Geneva Convention.


Thu, Jan 24, 2013 : 3:08 a.m.

Congratulations to the kid for being a model citizen. With a valid driver license, which I remind you all is a privilege not a right, it will grant him additional access to things. Question to ask - would the state grant him a Michigan ID card - which is a driver license without the 'o' option as they are not given operator status ? Better yet - if the Michigan ID card is not valid, then can Michigan grant a driver license w/ a condition indicating his legal status is not permanent ? We should find a way to allow folks like this to be able to contribute to society during this gray period while still preserving the proper access and privileges that come with official citizenship.


Thu, Jan 24, 2013 : 2:31 a.m.

What does the state have to gain by refusing to issue licenses to people like Javier?

Silly Sally

Thu, Jan 24, 2013 : 1:34 p.m.

Rule of law. He is here illegally. But I would support lowering our Mexico quota by one and letting someone like him stay. But, deport his parents, who knowingly broke the law. He had no say in it.

Angry Moderate

Thu, Jan 24, 2013 : 1:33 a.m.

I don't get it. What the heck allows an agency to give someone "legal presence" without Congress passing a law that says they can?


Sun, Jan 27, 2013 : 3:11 a.m.

Dictator Obama doesn't care about congress, he passes laws with or without them.


Thu, Jan 24, 2013 : 12:12 a.m.

Ok. Just watched the video. Place your bets. What occurs first, young Mr. Contreras gets his license, or Skyline gets the "L" back on their signage? "Skyline - Ann Arbor Pub ic Schools" All kidding aside, I'm also very curious to see how Snyder responds to this, if at all.

Dog Guy

Thu, Jan 24, 2013 : midnight

I must have missed the news when Congress passed the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals legislation, but the law is law isn't it.


Sun, Jan 27, 2013 : 3:09 a.m.

King Obama does what he wants with or without the approval of congress.


Wed, Jan 23, 2013 : 11:47 p.m.

Ok....I do not like Obama or his policies BUT since this kid is allowed to stay here and work it makes no sense not to let him drive so he can work.I'd like to see what Synder has to say about this.But I'll say one thing , I bet dollars to doughnuts that if Synder thinks he should be able to drive the anti Synder crowed here will criticize him anyway

Silly Sally

Thu, Jan 24, 2013 : 1:28 p.m.

self deportation?


Wed, Jan 23, 2013 : 11:45 p.m.

Thank You American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU)!!! This is a case you can run with and win!!! Here we have a young man totally acculturated to the USA, who arrived here through no inclination on his own, and Michigan refuses to grant him a Driver License. South of the Rio Grande and all the way to the South Pole you have hundreds of millions of Spanish speaking people (Brazil excepted) and in Jose we have a very smart bi-lingual guy. Don't we want to tap that vast market? Get your heads out of the oatmeal you nay-sayers. You know, someday Jose might be appointed U. S. Ambassador to Mexico!


Thu, Jan 24, 2013 : 7:23 p.m.

@HeimerBoodle. When the story was first posted (notice that I posted the first comment), Javier's name was reported as "Jose." A few hours after my post, the reporter correct his name to Javier.


Thu, Jan 24, 2013 : 4:42 p.m.

His name is Javier. Here's hoping this was a clueless mistake and not as blatantly racist as it sounds. And yes, I get that you are trying to support the young man, but that doesn't exempt one from stepping in it in other ways.

Silly Sally

Thu, Jan 24, 2013 : 2:24 p.m.

Why would America appoint a Mexican to be the Ambassador to Mexico instead of an American? It is like letting a fox guard the chicken coup.


Thu, Jan 24, 2013 : 12:05 a.m.

I didn't thumbs down you but no need to kiss his behind because his parents brought him here illegally