A recent deadly crash in Macomb County is refocusing attention on pending legislation backed by Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson, and Democrats in the Legislature to deliver driver’s licenses to illegal immigrants.

Jose Medina-Hernandez faces two counts of moving violation causing death after he “failed to slow in a construction area causing a 4-car accident that resulted in the deaths of an 88-year-old mother and her 63-year-old daughter” on June 6.

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“It was later determined that Medina-Hernandez had no legal status in this country and ICE [Immigration and Customs Enforcement] was contacted for further investigation,” according to an initial press release from the Shelby Township Police Department.

Two law enforcement sources told The Midwesterner Medina-Hernandez held a Michigan driver’s license, and a commercial driver’s license, prompting questions from Sen. Joseph Bellino about whether Benson “may be unlawfully issuing licenses to illegal immigrants.”

Benson’s office responded by clarifying that Medina-Hernandez held a Michigan chauffeur’s license, which is required for transporting more than 16 people, carrying hazardous materials, operating a vehicle weighing more than 26,001 pounds, or towing a heavy-weight trailer.

Benson also defended his immigration status, with SOS Director of Communications Angela Benander suggesting in a statement to The Midwesterner that “it is inaccurate to characterize (Medina-Hernandez) as being here illegally or being an ‘illegal alien’” because technically “someone whose status is asylum-seeker has lawful presence in the U.S.”

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“Prior to issuing a Michigan chauffeur’s license to Mr. Medina-Hernandez, our office confirmed his status as asylum-seeker with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Systemic Alien Verification Entitlement (SAVE) program,” SOS Chief Legal Director Michael Brady wrote to Bellino.

Brady alleged it is “irresponsible behavior” to report on Medina-Hernandez’s immigration status based on comments from investigators, which he described as “falsehoods being reported as facts.”

The case, however, highlights one indisputable fact: If Benson, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, and Lansing Democrats get their way, there will be a massive influx of illegal immigrants on the roads across the state.

“We need to ensure that everyone’s got a path to getting a license, so they’ve got identification,” Whitmer told the immigration rights group Movimiento Cosecha in 2019. “That’s something that’s important to me, it’s important to our economy, and it’s important to the people of Michigan.”

Whitmer added Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson and Attorney General Dana Nessel also supported the concept.

Last year, Democratic leaders worked with Benson to make Whitmer’s priority a reality, introducing legislation to reverse laws approved in 2008 that prevent illegal immigrants from obtaining driver’s licenses.

At a Lansing press conference in April 2023, state Sen. Stephanie Chang, D-Detroit, credited Benson’s office with advising on the “cleanest, simplest” way to peel back the 2008 law.

State Rep. Rachel Hood, D-Grand Rapids, framed the effort as a means to address “a crisis across industries, having failed to really attract and retain workers over time,” the Detroit Free Press reported at the time. “We have a workers shortage and immigrants have been critical, critical talent to bring into the state. We’re competing with states across the country to attract and retain that talent.”

The Michigan League of Public Policy estimates the legislation could open the door to 55,000 more people obtaining driver’s licenses in the first three years after it’s approved.

They would include folks like Brandon Ortiz-Vite, who stands accused of murdering 25-year-old Grand Rapids resident Ruby Garcia in March. Ortiz-Vite was deported by the Trump administration in 2020 following a string of crimes, including driving without a license and driving while intoxicated, before returning to West Michigan. Police allege Ortiz-Vite used an illegally purchased handgun to shoot Garcia multiple times before dumping her body alongside US-31 and fleeing in her car.

Following the heinous murder, Democrats in Lansing renewed calls to approve the “Drive Safe” legislation to give licenses to illegal immigrants.

“Committed to passing necessary protections in employment and housing for agricultural and domestic workers and to support Drive Safe!” state Rep. Emily Dievendorf, D-Kalamazoo, posted to X shortly after the murder.

Others who would benefit from the Drive Safe bill include illegal immigrants accused of soliciting sex from minors in Shiawassee County, sexual conduct with a 15-year-old Livingston County girl, multiple sex assaults in Ann Arbor, a fatal hit-and-run in Grand Rapids, and breaking into a home in Sturgis to molest two girls under the age of 13.

The Drive Safe legislation is one piece of a broader effort by Democrats to court illegal immigrants and establish Michigan as “the state of choice for many newcomer populations.”

Those efforts involve Whitmer’s proposal to spend $8 million in legal aid for “asylum seekers,” $738,000 in grants “to support newcomer integration,” $500 per month rental subsidies for “newcomers,” and other spending.

When Republicans attempted to ensure the spending did not go to illegal immigrants, Democrats shot down the proposal.

The Democratic majority has likewise blocked Republican plans to address illegal immigration that include a ban on sanctuary cities and counties, permission for officers to question a person’s immigration status, and a state crime for those in Michigan illegally.

Meanwhile, folks illegally crossing both the northern and southern border continue to flock to Michigan.

A recent report from the American Immigration Council shows the state’s immigrant population is growing nearly 10 times faster than the overall population, with the number of illegal immigrants in the Great Lakes State now at 102,700.