The State of Georgia has recently had a rocky relationship with all immigrants, regardless of legal status. Some Georgia legislators have made it their mission to terrorize immigrant communities and make life completely unbearable.
Their latest targets are immigrants’ driver’s licenses. Driving is a big part of life in Georgia. It’s how we get things done. So when the state denies a group taxpayers the right to obtain driver’s licenses, it not only affects the people wanting to obey the law, but it also hurts productivity and the economy.
Now the Georgia Dept. of Driver Services is going after immigrants with pending legal statuses. The policy was put into place in 2015 to deny people the right to obtain a license if they’re unable to prove a “history of continuous lawful presence” in the state. This new policy has resulted in a lawsuit brought on by the Southern Poverty Law Center and an Atlanta immigration lawyer on behalf of six plaintiffs, who have already proved their lawful presence in the state.
The six plaintiffs are authorized to work in the U.S. and have applied for lawful permanent residency; yet, when they tried to renew their licenses, they were denied. Without the ability to drive, these people have missed out on work and family functions and now find something as basic as grocery shopping a daunting task. They are unable to provide for their families and be productive members of society. If they were to drive in their current state and get caught, it would result in jail time and fines and jeopardize their legal status. The DDS is using legal status to discriminate against immigrants. The plaintiffs have provided all of the legal federal documents needed, and the state continues to deny them this basic right.
The lawsuit cites the 14th amendment, the Equal Protection Clause, which makes it illegal to “deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.” This lawsuit is a part of a bigger conversation that involves the lives of thousands who are in this immigration battle. People want and deserve to be recognized by the state. They want to lead a normal life without having to look over their shoulders or worry every time they decide to leave their homes. If these Georgia residents can legally work and are expected to pay taxes, they deserve the same rights as every other law-abiding Georgian.