Illegal immigrants can no longer get a Michigan driver's license, Attorney General Mike Cox ruled, reversing a practice that has come under increasing scrutiny after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.
Michigan has been one of eight U.S. states to allow illegal immigrants to get driver's licenses. Attorney general opinions are legally binding on state agencies and officers unless reversed by the courts.
It was not immediately known how soon the opinion may take effect or what it means for illegal immigrants with currently valid licenses.
The American Civil Liberties Union of Michigan criticized Cox's opinion, in which he cited national security concerns.
"It drives them further underground," executive director Kary Moss said of illegal immigrants. "If they have licenses, then the state knows about them and has information about them. If there's no form of state recognition, it's essentially a much more invisible population."
Whether illegal immigrants should get licenses has become a major political issue, with U.S. Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Rodham Clinton coming out against granting driver's licenses to illegal immigrants after opponents said she stumbled over the issue in a debate.
Hawaii, Maine, Maryland, New Mexico, Oregon, Utah and Washington currently do not require drivers to prove legal status in order to obtain a license.