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Posted at 5:44 PM ET, 09/20/2010

Advocacy groups call on DMV to rescind policy limiting use of work permit cards

By Anita Kumar
Anita Kumar

The Virginia Coalition of Latino Organizations and the American Civil Liberties Union are calling on the state to rescind its new policy to no longer allow federal work permit cards to prove someone's legal status when obtaining driver's licenses or identification cards.

The change was implemented Sept. 7 after a fatal crash involving a Benedictine nun and a Bolivian man, accused of drunk driving, who immigrated here illegally.

More 70 groups, including more law firms, unions, trade associations, faith based organizations, immigrant services and advocacy organizations, sent a letter to Commissioner of the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles Richard Holcomb Friday.

"This precipitous decision was made overnight without notice to or comment from the public, and apparently was based on a concern about the issuance of a single EAD I-766 to a single individual," said Jorge Figueredo, director of racial justice and immigrant rights for the American Civil Liberties Union. "Moreover, the decision is arbitrary, capricious and overbroad."

Melanie Stokes, a Holcomb spokeswoman, said DMV is awaiting clarity from the attorney general's office and hopes that this issue is resolved as quickly as possible.

Carlos A. Martinelly-Montano, 23, is accused of swerving into the path of a vehicle carrying Mosier and two other nuns on their way to a retreat in Prince William County.

Martinelly-Montano, who had entered the United States illegally at age 8 with his parents, had been awaiting a deportation hearing after convictions for drunken driving in 2007 and 2008. In January 2009, he received a federal employment authorization card from the Department of Homeland Security and used it to obtain a Virginia ID card. Martinelly-Montano, who has been indicted on involuntary manslaughter and drunken driving charges in connection with the accident, did not have a valid driver's license at the time of the crash.

"One isolated case, no matter how tragic, does not justify the resulting disruption and burden arbitrarily placed on thousands of tax-paying and law abiding legal residents of Virginia who want nothing more than to live their lives, drive to work and worship, and get their children to school and other activities safely,'' Edgar Aranda-Yanoc, president of the Virginia Coalition of Latino Organizations said.

The cards were introduced in 1997 as a way to identify those who are authorized to work temporarily in the United States.

By Anita Kumar  | September 20, 2010; 5:44 PM ET
Categories:  Anita Kumar, Transportation  
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Comments

The VA DMV should have the right to decide which documents that they would accept to prove LEGAL STATUS before granting a person the PRIVILEGE to obtain a driver license.

ILLEGAL ALIENS ARE IN THIS COUNTRY ILLEGALLY AND ARE CRIMINALS, SO WHY IN THE HE## SHOULD THEY BE GRANTED THE PRIVILEGE TO DRIVE A VEHICLE IN THE STATE OF VA, FOR THAT MATTER, ANY STATE!

ILLEGAL ALIENS need to be rounded up and deported back to their own country. Let them get their driver license there and NOT HERE!!!

Posted by: ketrout | September 21, 2010 9:09 PM | Report abuse

At the time Martinelly-Montano was issued an EAD, he was in the U.S. legally. At the time of the accident, USCIS was seeking to deport him because of his DUI convictions. Until deportation proceedings are concluded, a person "under deportation" retains his/her legal status. That's the way due process works. The EAD is widely recognized as reliable evidence that an alien is in the US legally. In fact, the Social Security Administration normally requires it in order to obtain a social security number. The governor of Virginia is a shameless demagogue.

Posted by: Cynthia11 | September 22, 2010 11:05 AM | Report abuse

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