(COLUMBUS, OHIO, 1/20/17) – The Columbus, Ohio, chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-Columbus) today welcomed a decision of the Ohio BMV not to revoke the commercial driver’s licenses of over 500 Ohio immigrants.
The issue began in mid-December when the BMV sent letters stating that CDL licenses would be revoked within 30 days if the holder could not provide proof of a green card or US citizenship – causing widespread panic among immigrant commercial truck drivers who currently have pending green card applications. Ohio law previously only required proof of “legal presence” which would include proof of a work authorization or proof of filing of various types of immigration applications.
CAIR-Columbus became involved when their attorneys began getting calls from Muslim immigrants who were in a panic about how they would support their families if they lost their CDL.
“We had clients calling asking if they should move to another state so they would be able to continue working,” said Jennifer Nimer, CAIR-Columbus Director. “Several of our clients have pending green card applications which have been unreasonably delayed by USCIS for over a year and a half, and we were already in the process of preparing a lawsuit for those delays, but we had to drop what we were doing to try to quickly resolve the CDL issue just so they would be able to continue to put food on the table for their families while we work to resolve their application delays.”
CAIR-Columbus partnered with Simakovsky Law, a local immigration law firm, to file free appeals for anyone affected by the revocations and also worked with the Ohio Chapter of AILA to put pressure on the BMV to reconsider the new regulation and how it would adversely affect Ohio immigrants.
After weeks of waiting, CAIR-Columbus was informed yesterday by the legal counsel for the Ohio BMV that the the decision to revoke licences had been reversed and that they would continue to accept proof of legal presence rather than requiring proof of a green card.
“Our clients complied with all relevant laws when they applied for their CDL, and have already provided documentation of legal presence in the U.S. We are glad the BMV realized that suddenly revoking their licenses, and thereby depriving them of the ability to support themselves, would not have accomplished anything to make our state safer and would have unnecessarily punished an already vulnerable immigrant community” Nimer said.
She also expressed gratitude to Inna Simakovsky and Mathias Manner, the volunteer attorneys who helped file the appeals.
CAIR is America’s largest Muslim civil liberties and advocacy organization. Its mission is to enhance the understanding of Islam, encourage dialogue, protect civil liberties, empower American Muslims, and build coalitions that promote justice and mutual understanding.
CONTACT: CAIR-Columbus Director Jennifer Nimer, 614-451-3232 or email firstname.lastname@example.org