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