At least six immigrants will keep their Pennsylvania driver’s licenses after a state appeals court ruled that the Department of Transportation acted improperly when it cancelled their document because they used their Tax Identification instead of a valid Social Security Number.
This story began last year when PennDOT sent out thousands of letters to drivers whose Social Security numbers did not match the Social Security Administration database.
The agency suspended almost 1,100 licenses after determining that the identification numbers on those applications were not actual socials.
In April, 2010, I wrote the following about these folks for Philadelphia Weekly:
Without the benefit of legal counsel, six South American immigrants waged a court battle against the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT) and won the right to keep their driving privileges after the agency arbitrarily suspended them. The group didn’t plan on rising up against the agency without legal representation, but they couldn’t get a lawyer to touch their individual (or collective) cases. They were told it was better to keep quiet and not fight authority. Easier to just accept that their driver’s licenses had been revoked.
But María del Pilar Serna de Andrade, William Posada, Jesse Latorre, Pedro Camargo, Sandra González and Juan Carlos Ramírez were not prepared to do that. Their livelihoods depended on standing up to PennDOT, together. “We didn’t know each other up until this case,” says Colombian native Serna de Andrade.
In an AP story, Valerie Burch, the ACLU attorney representing the six, implied that this is not only a win for her clients but also for others in similar positions.
From the AP:
A lawyer for the six, Valerie Burch, of the American Civil Liberties Union of Pennsylvania, said Tuesday the decision was a win for her clients and others in similar positions.
PennDOT, Burch said, “would have to send a new notice out and give them an opportunity to respond and say what it is the client has to provide. And frankly, we aren’t worried about providing the required documents because these people are eligible for driver’s licenses.”