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Vermont DMV Won’t Share Undocumented Drivers’ Info With ICE

— January 17, 2020

In a recent settlement, the Vermont DMV says it’ll stop sharing undocumented motorists’ information with federal law enforcement.

The Vermont Department of Motor Vehicles, or DMV, will no longer share information on undocumented immigrants with federal authorities.

WCAX reports that the settlement “creates a net of legal protections for people applying for driver’s privilege cards, no matter their immigration status.”

Driver’s privilege cards—variations of which are found across the United States—allow undocumented motorists to obtain licenses without showing proof of legal residency. Proponents of such privilege cards say they ensure illegal immigrants are held to the same standards as everyone else on the road, while also encouraging them to purchase insurance policies for their lawfully owned and operated vehicles.

The suit, WCAX adds, was first filed by Migrant Justice, aided by the American Civil Liberties Union. Migrant Justice sued Vermont after discovering that some state workers had shared information with federal law enforcement agencies, including ICE.

As LegalReader relayed last November, DMV e-mails obtained by the ACLU in 2017 showed that ‘department investigators sent information to ICE on migrants they suspected gave false information on their applications for driver identification cards.’

An ICE officer in Florida. Image via U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement/Flickr. Public domain.

Migrant Justice says that the DMV’s cooperation with ICE and the Department of Homeland Security led to mass arrests, including of their own activists.

“This information was key and essential in the deportation of a mass number of people from our state,” said Migrant Justice member Enrique Balcazar, who himself was arrested and detained for nearly two weeks. “We will never know the full impact of this betrayal.”

Balcazar, adds, is still awaiting deportation proceedings.

Under the terms of the settlement, the Vermont DMV is limited in what information it can collect—and under what circumstances it can pass intelligence to the federal government. DMV workers will also be provided additional training.

Lia Ernst, an attorney with the ACLU’s Vermont chapter, said the department will no longer be allowed to make or store copies of documents proving both residency and identity. The DMV must, on request, destroy applicants’ previous documents, too.

To ensure compliance, the DMV will be monitored by a third-party auditor for the next year and a half.

“These accountability provisions are critical to DMV building up the trust that it squandered in its long-standing collaboration with ICE,” Ernst said. “And we look forward to a new day at the Vermont DMV, a day when all Vermonters can access these critical government services without fear and without discrimination.” notes that the state DMV commissioner, Wanda Minoli, was pleased with the case’s outcome.

“We believe these efforts have been important to help ensure that, regardless of immigration status, individuals are not afraid to gain access to driver’s privilege cards,” Minoli said.


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Vt. DMV settles lawsuit alleging it sent immigrant information to feds

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