(COLUMBUS, OHIO, 1/20/17) – The Columbus, Ohio, chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-Columbus) today welcomed a decision by the Ohio Bureau of Motor Vehicles (BMV) not to revoke the commercial driver’s licenses (CDL) of more than 500 Ohio immigrants.
The issue began in mid-December when the BMV sent the letters to those immigrants stating that CDL licenses would be revoked within 30 days if the holder could not provide proof of a green card or American 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. It is unclear why the BMV suddenly decided to change the regulation and begin revoking licenses.
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CAIR-Columbus became involved when its attorneys began receiving calls from Muslim immigrants who were concerned about how they would support their families if they lost their CDL.
The Muslim civil rights organization joined with Simakovsky Law – a local immigration law firm – in filing more than 40 free appeals for anyone affected by the revocations and also worked with the Ohio chapter of the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) to put pressure on the BMV to reconsider the new regulation and how it would adversely affect Ohio immigrants.
CAIR-Columbus was informed yesterday by the legal counsel for the Ohio BMV that the decision to revoke licenses had been reversed and that the bureau would continue to accept proof of legal presence rather than requiring proof of a green card.
“We had clients calling asking if they should move to another state so they would be able to continue working,” said CAIR-Columbus Director Jennifer Nimer. “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.”
“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,” said Nimer.