DECEMBER 08, 2009
In a much-needed victory for immigration enforcement, an Ohio judge has ruled that the state can proceed with its plan to cancel the registrations of tens of thousands of vehicles driven by illegal aliens.
Issued this week in Franklin County, the decision will affect nearly 50,000 vehicles fraudulently registered by U.S. residents on behalf of illegal immigrants. Known as “runners,” the U.S. residents charge undocumented aliens a fee to register a car in their name—using a falsified power-of-attorney form—with the Ohio Bureau of Motor Vehicles.
The agency finally decided to cut back on the scam a few months ago after a local newspaper revealed that it has long ignored the crisis at the request of influential Latino business owners. In late October the bureau sent out nearly 50,000 letters to vehicle owners informing them that their registrations will be revoked unless they prove legal U.S. residency, as state law requires, by December 8.
A Latino rights group sued to intercept the process, claiming that the state is illegally intruding into federal immigration issues. The judge (Pamela Browning) flatly rejected the argument, ruling that the Bureau of Motor Vehicles has a compelling public safety interest in cancelling the questioned registrations and that the agency isn’t demanding anything different from Latinos than is demanded from all Ohioans who register vehicles.
The defeated immigrant rights group says the state “fish hunt” has cast a wide net that has deceptively caught immigrants who contribute significantly to the state’s economy. The organization, League of United Latin American Citizens, has vowed to appeal the ruling in an effort to keep illegal immigrants behind the wheel in the Buckeye State.
In the meantime, Ohio drivers who can’t provide police with adequate identification risk going to jail, having their license plates seized and in some cases deportation.
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