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Federal court blocks driver’s license barrier for Ohio immigrants

In Ohio, the challenges immigrants face can be overwhelming. One issue that has garnered significant attention is whether immigrants and their loved ones can get a state driver’s license. A recent case in which the Ohio Bureau of Motor Vehicles (BMV) tried to put barriers in place preventing immigrants from receiving a license was one such circumstance. People who are dealing with these and similar issues should be aware of how to protect themselves and their loved ones.

A federal judge determined that the Ohio BMV’s policies were discriminatory and disallowed them. The bureau asserted that it was granted wide latitude in enforcing the motor vehicle laws. The judge, however, found that the policies discriminated against immigrants. The BMV is no longer able to enforce these policies against teens whose parents are immigrants who might be in the country illegally and refugees who have been in the country for more than two years, but have yet to get a green card.

The legal filing defending immigrants’ rights asserted that this was a targeted plan against them. The policy would have meant that parents and guardians were required to show their immigration status so a teen could be given a learner’s permit and a driver’s license. The teens who were born in the U.S. are categorized as citizens. Several groups filed lawsuits protesting the policy. Approximately 3,000 16 and 17-year-olds are impacted by the court’s ruling and it will also affect at least 1,000 refugees. The cases were made into class action filings.

The basis of the Ohio BMV’s attempt to take this step with immigrants’ and refugees’ children is the federal REAL ID Act saying what documents were needed for a driver’s license. However, this does not involve their children if they must co-sign for them to get BMV documents. That it was not specifically mentioned gave the BMV the idea that it could implement any policy it wanted. The court disagreed. In a separate attempt to justify the policy, the BMV suggested that the documentation was needed if the young driver had an accident and needed to show insurance for liability. But the teens can show the insurance on their own.

Given the current climate in the U.S. and how immigrants – legal and illegal – can face problems for a variety of reasons, it is imperative to have protection from a qualified law firm. Employment, family law, documentation and more can be problematic and lead to fear or arrest and deportation. A law firm experienced with immigration and migration concerns might help.