Immigrants in Pa. win case against PennDOT

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 Easier to just accept that their driver’s licenses had been revoked.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.

Thanks to this story and to the work and support from the Media Mobilizing Project, the American Civil Liberties Union of Pennsylvania took this case.

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.”


About Gustavo Martínez Contreras

was born in Texas, brewed in Mexico City, seasoned in the Mexico-United States border, aged walking the streets of Philadelphia. He had a short-lived stint eating grits, fried chicken, and peaches in Atlanta. He later became a béisbol writer for El Diario de Nueva York. He has written about immigrant communities in English, Spanish, and some Spanglish. Although he does not have a shelf full of awards, Gustavo has received thank you notes and hugs from people who have trusted him with their stories. His work has appeared in Voices of New York, El Diario/La Prensa, Dallas’ Al Día, The Philadelphia Public School Notebook, Philadelphia Weekly, Radio Bilingüe, Latina Lista,, among others. He is currently pursuing a master's degree at the CUNY Graduate School of Journalism.
This entry was posted in Immigration, Latino issues, migración, Pennsylvania, politics, Social Justice and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to Immigrants in Pa. win case against PennDOT

  1. Mario Rocha says:

    iBuen trabajo compa! Zi Ze Puede


  2. This type of hate is only towards Latinos! Latinos have become the “THE NEGRO” post civil rights era and post 9/11. I grew up in roit zone Detroit during the civil rights era of the late 50′,60′,70′ nothing has changed for us Latinos.Now we under hate from whites and blacks.America has become pure racial hell for our families. This hate has to come to an end!


  3. Pingback: Update: Immigrants in Pa. win case against PennDOT | Mojado Citizen

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s