Friday, February 18, 2005

Immigration: Another activist judge says illegal aliens have the right to a driver license.

"judge ordered yesterday that the state stop taking away the driver's licenses of immigrants in New York who do not have Social Security cards, saying that the Department of Motor Vehicles is not authorized to enforce immigration law or to make new rules without public notice. The department began a license crackdown last year that was expected to cost the licenses of 300,000 immigrants in New York this year and has already led to the suspension of about 7,000 licenses. The order by Justice Karen Black of State Supreme Court in Manhattan was temporary, but lawyers on both sides said it reflected her preliminary opinion that immigrant drivers would suffer irreparable harm unless the crackdown was stopped while the court considers a class-action lawsuit brought on their behalf, and that the immigrants' suit was likely to prevail. It was filed last summer against Gov. George E. Pataki and Raymond Martinez, the motor vehicles commissioner, by the Puerto Rican Legal Defense and Education Fund. It was brought on behalf of New Yorkers who have been denied a driver's license or identity card for lack of a verifiable Social Security number or an immigration document satisfactory to the Department of Motor Vehicles. "We think this is a clear victory for the immigrant community, that they are entitled to the same licenses as any other resident of the state," said Foster S. Maer, one of the lawyers for the plaintiffs. "The court found that the state can't just arbitrarily cut off the driver's licenses for the immigrants of the state. They had done it secretly without any notice."

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