The Vermont Department of Motor Vehicles is shelling out $40,000 to an illegal alien because staff tipped off federal authorities about his status.
DMV staff helped to coordinate a meeting with Abdel Rababa, of Jordan, that resulted in his arrest by federal immigration officials in 2014, Vermont Public Radio reports.
“DMV staff tipped off federal authorities that they had doubts about Rababa’s residency status after a paperwork mistake by the department made it appear that Rababa had claimed to be a legal resident,” according to the news site.
The case centered on a Vermont law enacted in 2014 that allows illegal immigrants to obtain “driver’s privilege cards” that allow them on the roads legally.
“If you then take actions such as DMV took in this case based on an individual’s national origin, you are essentially eviscerating the intent of the law that the legislature created,” Karen Richards, head of the Vermont Human Rights Commission, told VPR.
“One of the problems in this case was that they rolled out this new law and they didn’t actually provide any training or policy changes for their staff, and so staff was left without the tools necessary to actually implement it correctly.”
The DMV must now pay Rababa $40,000 as part of a settlement, and the department must also start training employees on “fair and impartial policing and on other immigration and constitutional issues that should help avoid having this unnecessary contact with federal law enforcement,” Richards said.
In other words, DMV employees should get the message that Vermont protects illegal immigrants from federal authorities, and that should encourage more illegal immigrants to apply for the special “privilege cards.”
“I think the one thing that I was also concerned about is that having a situation like Mr. Rababa’s could have a chilling effect on other people that wanted to go and get this identification, which is really important to people for a lot of different reasons,” Richards told VPR.
“So I’m hoping that because of this case, individuals who go to apply will not experience the same thing that Mr. Rababa did.”
According to Lawyers.com:
… (A) total of 12 states plus the District of Columbia allow undocumented immigrants to obtain a driver’s license. These 12 states include California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Maryland, New Mexico, Nevada, Utah, Vermont and Washington.
The typical requirements to obtain such a license include that the applicant provide proof of identity and nationality, most likely in the form of a foreign birth certificate, foreign passport, or consular card; as well as proof of current residency in the state. Applicants may also need to provide proof that they pay federal and state income taxes.
Not all of these states follow the California model of saying the license is for driving purposes only and cannot be used to prove identity in other contexts. Also, some states have the cards expire long before a citizen’s card would, such as after one year.
The issue has also brought lawsuits from immigration-rights groups that have argued states that rejected the idea of driver’s licenses for illegal immigrants are racist.
In Oregon, SB 883 created driver’s licenses for illegal immigrants but voters killed the idea at the ballot box, with 66 percent voting against it. Nonprofit groups Familias En Accion and Los Ninos Cuentan sued numerous state officials and argued that the vote “arbitrarily and irrationally” prevented illegal immigrants from driving because it was motivated by racism, Breitbart reports.
The groups argued the vote was a “desire to punish” illegal immigrants, and that “it is not a crime for a person to seek or engage in unauthorized work in the United States,” according to the news site.