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Judge instructs Indiana to remove the Ukrainian language from the driver’s license statute related to humanitarian parole



Indianapolis, Indiana – Indiana was mandated by a federal judge to remove a clause from state legislation that permits those on humanitarian parole to apply for driver’s licenses—but only if they are citizens of Ukraine.

On Thursday, the court issued a preliminary injunction to a group of Haitian immigrants suing the state of Indiana over the recently enacted legislation. The immigrants from Haiti claim that the law is unlawful and discriminatory, and they are working to get it permanently banned.

If the state will appeal the judge’s ruling, that much was unknown on Friday.

The Indiana Bureau of Motor Vehicles Commissioner was the target of the case, which was filed in August. Attorneys from the National Immigration Law Center and the American Civil Liberties Union of Indiana are defending the plaintiffs.

“I plan to continue advocating for justice alongside the other plaintiffs, because getting a driver’s license should be dependent on following the rules of the road, not on the country where you were born,” lead plaintiff Jeffson Saint-Hilaire said in a written statement provided by the ACLU of Indiana.

The law in question, Indiana House Enrolled Act 1050, offers a pathway for immigrants on humanitarian parole from Ukraine to get driver’s licenses and identification cards.

According to the lawsuit, four of the five Haitian immigrants—all of whom are on humanitarian parole—live in rural locations without access to public transit and want the same legal opportunities as everyone else. Attorneys have stated that they depend on others for transportation to work and other daily tasks like grocery shopping. A kid who is the last plaintiff wants to get an identity card.

The Equal Protection Clause of the United States Constitution and the Civil Rights Act of 1964, according to the attorneys representing Haitian immigrants, are violated by the law. They further claim that it establishes its immigration classifications, a power that is reserved by the federal government.

The Commissioner is being represented by the Indiana Attorney General’s office. The Associated Press inquired as to whether the state would file an appeal of the judge’s ruling. Attorneys for the state contended in a court proceeding held in November that the legislation does not clash with federal law or federal immigration categories as it was enacted to replicate some elements found in Congress’s Additional Ukraine Supplemental Appropriations Act.

In her 45-page opinion, U.S. District Court Judge Tanya Walton Pratt stated the legislation distinguishes between classes of humanitarian parolees and there is a significant likelihood that the provision violates the Equal Protection Clause.

“If the Indiana statute permitted all humanitarian parolees alike to obtain licenses, identification cards or titles, plaintiffs would not need to bring this suit,” she wrote.

With the remainder of the statute remaining in effect, Pratt directed Indiana to remove the Ukrainian provision language from her preliminary injunction.

The complaint is still underway and also requests class action certification.

“We will continue to pursue this case to ensure that Ukrainians and non-Ukrainians have an equal opportunity to support their families and communities,” Gavin M. Rose, senior attorney with the ACLU of Indiana, said in the statement.


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