A judge has ordered New York state to stop taking away the driver’s licenses of immigrants who do not have Social Security cards, saying that the Department of Motor Vehicles is not authorized to enforce immigration law or to make new rules without public notice. The department began a license crackdown last year that was expected to cost the licenses of 300,000 immigrants in New York this year and has already led to the suspension of about 7,000 licenses, reports the New York Times.
The order by Justice Karen Black was temporary, but lawyers on both sides said it reflected her preliminary opinion that immigrant drivers would suffer irreparable harm unless the crackdown was stopped while the court considers a class-action lawsuit brought on their behalf, and that the immigrants’ suit was likely to prevail. It was filed last summer against Gov. George Pataki and Raymond Martinez, the motor vehicles commissioner, by the Puerto Rican Legal Defense and Education Fund. It was brought on behalf of New Yorkers who have been denied a driver’s license or identity card for lack of a verifiable Social Security number or an immigration document satisfactory to the Department of Motor Vehicles.