Ohio driver’s licenses blocked for some immigrants by some BMV agencies, contra the directive of Pres. Obama
CLEVELAND, Feb. 23, 2013 (AP): Driver's licenses for some young immigrants who came to the United States without documentation are being blocked by Ohio Department of Public Safety officials' questioning whether a new federal program gives those immigrants temporary legal status.
Ohio Bureau of Motor Vehicles offices apparently are reaching different conclusions about the status of the young immigrants because they are not getting guidance from the Department of Public Safety that oversees the BMV office, The (Cleveland) Plain Dealer reports. State officials say they are not certain about whether the language of the federal program does confer legal status.
The federal Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program established last year by the Obama administration [June 15, 2012] gives immigrants who came here without documentation as children two years of legal status. That status allowing them to get work permits and Social Security numbers is renewable every two years.
Government figures show that more than 150,000 young people nationwide had been approved for the program as of January of 2013, but some states have been issuing driver's licenses to those in the program and others have not.
Carol Apaestegui and José Mendez, who live in northeast Ohio, came to the United States as immigrants when they were children and have been accepted in the new federal program. But Mendez was denied a license in Parma, while officials in Cleveland issued a license to Apaestegui, the newspaper reported.
Mendez, 20, was born in Mexico and lives in Cleveland. He said he was refused a driver's license at the BMV office in Parma last month.
``A woman at the bureau told me, `You're not even supposed to be in this country,''' said Mendez who works shining shoes.
But Apaestegui, 24, received a license from a BMV office in Cuyahoga Falls in December.
``I just showed them the documents I had and that was it,'' said Apaestegui, who was born in Perú and lives in Stow.
Joe Andrews, spokesman for Ohio's Department of Public Safety, which oversees the BMV, said the department's lawyers are studying the federal program to determine whether it ``coincides'' with Ohio law.
Andrews said Friday that the federal language is unclear and the department has not yet issued any guidance to BMV offices.
Cleveland immigration lawyer David Leopold said the department is wrong and officials are ignoring the law.
``The State of Ohio needs to look at the law and look at the guidance established by Homeland Security,'' he said.
A petition signed by more than 200 people—including Leopold—has urged Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine—a Republican—and the registrar of Ohio's BMV to direct all of Ohio's license bureaus to issue licenses to those who qualify under the federal program.
A DeWine spokesman said Friday that DeWine's role would only be to advise the Department of Public Safety on the issue. A message seeking additional comment was left at the attorney general's office Saturday.
Information from: The Plain Dealer, http://www.cleveland.com
CLICK HERE TO VIEW Letter to Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine