Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Fed Court: Nebraska Can Deny Drivers License to Some Non-Citizens

It is legal for Nebraska’s Department of Motor Vehicles to deny drivers licenses to people brought into the U.S. Illegally as children.

The ruling came from the Federal District Court of Nebraska this afternoon. Mayra Saldana challenged the DMV’s rules in the lawsuit.  Her family moved her from Mexico to Lincoln, Neb. when she was two years old.  Twenty-two years later she wanted a driver’s license but was turned down more than once because she was not a U.S. Citizen with required documents.  Saldana felt the law had been misapplied and she was not being treated equally with other immigrants.

Sample Nebraska License
She lives in the U.S. legally, having been granted permission under what the Department of Homeland Security calls “deferred action.”  In effect, the U.S. has held off on making a decision whether to deport someone.  It’s often used in cases where kids are brought into the country by family who entered the country illegally.  The law does not recognize deferred status as legal citizenship.  

Saldana's case was dismissed with a summary judgement this afternoon by U.S. District Court Judge Laurie Smith Camp .  Judge Smith Camp, after reviewing Nebraska state law and DMV policy and procedures felt the state has a clear policy that does not treat people with differing immigration statuses in separate ways.  Camp wrote that DMV director Rhonda Lahm (the defendant in the case) treated non-citizens equally by issuing driver’s licenses only to applicants in the country lawfully.  

“Saldana is not similarly situated to persons having lawful status in the United States with respect to her qualification for a Nebraska driver’s license, and Lahm has not denied Saldana equal protection of the law,” Judge Smith Camp wrote in her order. 
Nebraska Attorney General Jon Bruning said in a prepared statement after the ruling was released: “We’re pleased the court dismissed the case and recognized illegal immigrants don’t qualify for Nebraska driver’s licenses.”  

You can get a permit to drive in Nebraska if you aren't a citizen.  You do need to provide one of the following:

  • A valid Resident Alien Card or Permanent Resident Card.
  • A valid Temporary Resident Identification Card.
  • A valid Employment Authorization Card.