Penn DOT fiasco
Over the past two weeks, thousands of people have received an Official Notice from the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania’s Department of Transportation, Bureau of Driver Licensing.
As if it couldn’t get bad enough in Pennsylvania after the events in Hazelton and Shenandoah something new and equally frightening is happening in our state. Over the past two weeks, thousands of people have received the following Official Notice from the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania’s Department of Transportation, Bureau of Driver Licensing (which, due to its enormous impact on our state and population, is printed in full below):
The Department of Transportation now requires verification of an individual’s Social Security number for all learner permits, driver licenses and identification documents we issue. This verification is done by comparing the Social Security number you provided the Department to the Social Security number that is on record for you with the Social Security Administration. We have not been able to verify with the Social Security Administration the Social Security number you provided when you applied for your learner permit, driver license or identification card.
As a result, your driving privilege is being cancelled effective June 19, 2009 at 12:01 a.m. as authorized by Section 1572 of the Vehicle Code.
In order to obtain reconsideration of this cancellation, you must take the following identity documents to a Driver’s License Center prior to June 19, 2009. If the Department is unable to verify your name, date of birth and Social Security number with the Social Security Administration, your driver’s license/identification card will be cancelled indefinitely until this matter is resolved. A listing of all Driver License Centers and their hours of operation is enclosed for your review.
U.S. Citizens –
Social Security Card (card cannot be laminated) and one of the following:
• Birth Certificate with raised seal (U.S. issued by an authorized government agency, including U.S. territories or Puerto Rico. Non-U.S. Birth Certificates will not be accepted)
• Certificate of U.S. Citizenship (BCIS/INS Form N-560)
• Certificate of Naturalization (BCIS/INS Form N-550 or N-570)
• Valid U.S. Passport
NOTE: Only valid Passports and original documents will be accepted.
For additional information please visit www.dmv.state.pa.us
Non-U.S. Citizens – You must bring all of the following:
• Social Security Card
• Valid Passport
• All original BICS/INS documents
• Written verification of attendance from school (Student Status Only)
• Written verification from employer (Employer Status Only)
To obtain detailed information regarding “identity/residency requirements”, you can visit www.dmv.state.pa.us, click on “Identity/Security” then click on “Documents needed for proof of identity and residency”.
THIS IS A FINAL ORDER OF CANCELLATION. If your Social Security number cannot be verified with the Social Security Administration by June 19, 2009, you are required to return your license to the Department. If you do not have a license to return, you must complete and submit form DL-16LC or a sworn affidavit stating you are aware of the sanction against your driving privilege. Failure to comply shall result in the Department referring this matter to the Pennsylvania State Police for prosecution under SECTION 1571(a) (4) of the Vehicle Code.
You have the right to appeal this action to the Court of Common Pleas (Civil Division) of the county of your residence within thirty (30) days of the mail date of this letter. If you file an appeal in the County Court, the Court will give you a time-stamped certified copy of the appeal. Send this time-stamped certified copy of the appeal to:
Pennsylvania Department of Transportation
Office of Chief Counsel
Third Floor, Riverfront Office Center
Harrisburg, PA 17104-2516
Filing an appeal does not change the requirements detailed above.
If you have any questions concerning this letter, you may contact the Driver License Research and Support Unit at (717) 214-7721.
Janet L. Dolan, Director
Bureau of Driver Licensing
If you have received this Official Notice, you are probably wondering: what should I do now? First of all (and if you’re one of the few lucky ones who has real immigration documents) make sure this is not an error. If you do in fact have a valid Social Security number and are able to provide all of the requested documentation, you still must respond. However, if you, like most of those individuals who received this notice, do not have a social security number because you lack legal status, there is great cause for concern and limited options available to you.
Why me, you ask? While no one is talking, it seems that those who used an ITIN number or a social security number not belonging to them in order to apply for a driver’s license in Pennsylvania have been targeted due to what appears to be a collaborative effort between the U.S. Social Security office and Penn Dot.
What then should you do if you are illegally in the U.S. and thus unable to provide the requested documents, especially a valid social security card? Your options unfortunately are limited and none of them are good. While you can challenge the law, if you do not qualify under Penn Dot’s rules you will ultimately lose. If you ignore the request to return your driver’s license, you may be criminally prosecuted under Pennsylvania law. If you do comply and return your driver’s license, you will now be driving without a license and hence uninsurable. In addition, if you turn your license in to Penn Dot, is that not an admission that you are in the U.S. illegal y and what will Penn Dot do with this information? Will it call ICE, which now has your home address and other information? Will ICE issue a “Notice to Appear” in Immigration Court?
With so many questions and so few good answers it is imperative that if you have received this notice you contact an immigration attorney to assist you in weighing your personal options and preparing a defense, if one exists, in the event of any adverse government action. In fact, this matter is so serious that members of the Philadelphia Immigration bar have organized an Advocacy Team to investigate why these Notices have been sent now and what actions (if any) will be taken by the Department of Transportation, the Pennsylvania State Police and, possibly, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, against those who are not able to comply with the Notice. With the deadline of June 19th looming, there is not much time for advocacy or action. Stay tuned next week for further updates!