IJPC Files Lawsuit against Ohio Bureau of Motor Vehicles For Denying State IDs and Licenses to Youth with Undocumented Parents
On Wednesday, October 17, 2018, members and supporters of the Intercommunity Justice and Peace Center (IJPC) gathered alongside Advocates for Basic Legal Equality (ABLE) to demand the Ohio Bureau of Motor Vehicles end a discriminatory policy denying Ohio IDs and driver’s licenses to U.S. citizens and documented immigrant youth.
Yesterday, IJPC and four individual plaintiffs filed a class action complaint against Don Petit, Registrar for the Ohio Bureau of Motor Vehicles (BMV) in the United States District Court for the Southern District of Ohio Eastern Division for enacting a policy that infringes upon the legal rights of the plaintiffs, according to attorneys for Advocates for Basic Legal Equality, a nonprofit law firm representing IJPC and the plaintiffs.
“We are seeking an injunction against the policy, so that all young people who are eligible to obtain driver’s licenses and state IDs can fully participate in their communities,” said Emily Brown, co-counsel from ABLE.
This unconstitutional policy has prevented thousands of children, who are U.S. citizens with foreign-born parents and documented immigrant youth, from receiving driver’s licenses and Ohio Identification Cards.
“Turning 16 is meant to be an exciting time, and beginning the process of getting a driver’s license is a huge part of that. Instead, our Youth Educating Society (YES) members have been faced with the heartbreaking reality that the state of Ohio has put up barriers to the success and wellbeing of themselves and their families,” said Isabela McClintock, an advisory board leader of YES, a youth-leadership program of IJPC.
The complaint challenges BMV requirements that Ohio Deputy Registrars must deny a driver’s license or state ID to otherwise eligible minors whose parents cannot serve as cosigners on the minor’s applications because they are undocumented. The discriminatory policy could affect thousands of U.S. citizen or documented non-citizen children living in Ohio. The complaint seeks to enjoin this unlawful policy and to allow parents or their representatives to serve as co-signers in their children’s driver’s license or state ID applications.
IJPC’s Youth Educating Society program empowers young immigrants and allies to share their stories and promote immigrant rights. IJPC’s Executive Director, Allison Reynolds-Berry, said “This is just one example of how our systems oppress immigrants and immigrant families with U.S. citizen children. IJPC stands with young people who should otherwise be allowed to drive as we stand against unjust systems that oppress their rights.”
ABLE also recently filed a related lawsuit on behalf of three other plaintiffs, including Community Refugee and Immigration Services, a refugee resettlement agency in Columbus. That related lawsuit challenges another BMV policy, which effectively denies licenses to lawfully admitted refugees if those refugees have not adjusted their status to lawful permanent residence within two years of their arrival in the U.S.
“We are hopeful that the BMV will end these unconstitutional and discriminatory policies and ensure that all Ohio residents who are eligible for driver’s licenses can obtain them,” Brown said.