Take Away Our Licenses"
From Nowy Dziennik
April 14, 2004
By Marek Tomaszewski
Pro-immigrant activists, including many Poles spoke
out on Tuesday, April 14th, against New York State's new laws regarding
driver license holders who do not have Social Security numbers.
The protest was organized by the New York Immigrant Coalition and
took place in front of the 34th Street Department of Motor Vehicles
The state of New York began verifying driver licenses
in March. The process involves the checking of each issued license
and whether the Social Security number under
a given license is real. The persons who received their licenses before Social
Security numbers were required have to update the Department of Motor Vehicles with their current number.
Many Polish and other immigrants possess phony SS numbers or are in the process
of receiving their documents. In both cases, there is a chance that their licenses
will be suspended by the state.
"That is exactly my situation," said Grzegorz Przytula,
a Polish immigrant residing in Bay Ridge who was one of the speakers
at the rally. The 34-year old
Pole came to the U.S.A. in 1998 and got his license only a year later. "When
I first applied for my license, all I had was a letter from the government
saying that I hadn't yet received my Social Security number. Back then, that
to be enough." On March 17th, Grzegorz received a letter from the Department of Motor Vehicles
asking him to verify his Social Security number. He is currently being sponsored
his employers and has not yet received the necessary document. “I hope
that the politicians will do something about the situation,’ Grzegorz
The new verification law will affect 11 million people in the
state of New York.
During the protest, Margie McHugh, the director
of the New York Immigration Coalition pointed out that eight states
do not require a Social Security
number for obtaining
a driver license. The Coalition unites 150 other pro-immigrant groups and
was the organizer of the demonstration. The goal of the organization is to
New York state officials to dismiss the new law.
The initiative was already
taken by two Latin- American politicians- Felix W. Ortiz and Jose
R. Peralta. “I’ve already come up with a plan to battle
this issue,” admitted Felix W. Ortiz, a democrat state assemblyman
from the 51st district in Brooklyn. The new plan would enable the Department of Motor Vehicles to
Individual Taxpayer Identification Number along with the already accepted
SS number. Both officials expect the debates over this issue to begin in
The Immigration Coalition already met with the Department of Motor Vehicles board in Albany.
Mark Louis, the Coalition representative in Albany, presented Raymond Martinez,
of the Department of Motor Vehicles, with the Coalition’s main requests. The Coalition wants
legislative action against the requirement of SS numbers when applying
for driver licenses.
It seems that politicians and pro-immigrant groups are both heading in
the same direction. According to Margie McHugh, a lot depends on Governor
and what his stand on the issue will be.
Officials at Department of Motor Vehicles offices believe
that eventually they will verify every driver license. They estimate
that after the process, approximately 500
individuals will be left without a valid license.
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
. . . .
Translated from Polish by Malwina Siedlinska