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After a lawsuit, Indiana lawmakers decide to abolish the Ukrainian driver’s license statute



Indianapolis, Indiana – Legislators in Indiana are attempting to rescind a law that was passed a year ago that distributes driver’s licenses to Ukrainian immigrants on humanitarian parole, following a recent ruling by a federal judge that the law must apply to all parolees.

A law that permitted people living legally in the United States under a restrictive parole definition to obtain a driver’s license—but only if they are from Ukraine—would be repealed under the bipartisan bill that was approved by the House on Monday. Under the same federal designation, a group of Haitian immigrants settled in Indiana and filed a lawsuit against the state, claiming the law was illegal and discriminatory.

A federal judge temporarily overturned the law’s Ukrainian clause in mid-January, enabling all immigrants on humanitarian parole to get temporary licenses within the state.

In the ongoing litigation, which aims to permanently overturn the Ukrainian stipulation, the Haitian immigrants are represented by the American Civil Liberties Union of Indiana and the National Immigration Law Center.

The Associated Press was informed by Gavin Rose, senior staff attorney with the ACLU of Indiana, that it is unclear how the lawsuit will be impacted if House Bill 1162 is signed into law.

“It would obviously be extremely concerning if the legislature removed the ability of Ukrainians to obtain credentials simply because Indiana has been required to also extend these credentials to persons from countries such as Haiti, who, like Ukrainians, have been allowed to enter and work in the United States because of dire humanitarian crises in their own countries,” Rose said in an email.

Republicans claim that granting the privilege to every parolee exposes the state to uncontrollable federal immigration categories.

The bill’s Republican author, Rep. Jim Pressel, complained to members on Thursday, stating that the federal definition of parole, which covers individuals from several nations, is flawed and that the lawsuit has turned the matter into a “mess.” He stated that he would like to discuss how to preserve the goals of the previous year’s legislation in the Senate.

The Republican floor leader in the House, Rep. Matt Lehman, claimed that permitting all parolees to obtain a license gives “dishonest” persons access to the “coveted status.”

“I just don’t have faith in our immigration policy on a national level that that status is coveted,” he told lawmakers Thursday. “I think that status is being granted to people that we would have problems with.”

Without a debate, the bill passed the Republican-controlled state House 89–8 and is now headed to the state Senate.

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