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Attorney General’s Office Facilitates Settlement of Lawsuit Brought by Migrant Justice

January 15, 2020

CONTACT:    Charity R. Clark, Chief of Staff, 802-828-3171

Agreement increases access to driver’s privilege cards

Attorney General T.J. Donovan announced that his office has facilitated the settlement of a lawsuit brought by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) on behalf of Migrant Justice against the Vermont Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV). The case involved allegations that DMV provided information from driver’s privilege card applications to Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) based upon stereotypes related to national origin and immigration status. The settlement announced today enhances access to driver’s privilege cards and limits ICE’s access to information obtained by DMV. The settlement will help all Vermont residents gain access to driver’s privilege cards.

“We are all Vermonters—regardless of immigration status—and we should all be able to seek a driver’s privilege card without fear that the federal government will unjustifiably obtain access to our personal information,” said Attorney General Donovan. “This is an important settlement that helps protect all Vermonters’ ability to drive legally.”

The framework of the settlement enhances access to driver’s privilege cards and limits ICE’s access to information obtained by DMV in the following ways:

  1. Proof of residence for driver’s privilege cards will be less burdensome. Only two letters sent to the applicant’s Vermont address will be required.
  2. Documents to show eligibility for a driver’s privilege card will no longer be copied by DMV unless there is evidence of fraud. For past applications, Migrant Justice will provide DMV with lists of individuals and DMV will destroy documents related to those individuals as soon as possible, consistent with DMV’s three-year document retention policy.
  3. DMV will require strict compliance with the State’s Fair and Impartial Policing policy. DMV will release to ICE and other federal authorities information that is unrelated to citizenship or immigration status only if that agency certifies, under the penalties of perjury, that the information is needed for officer or public safety or some other legitimate law enforcement purpose not related to immigration enforcement.

The settlement includes a payment by the State of $100,000. However, most of these monies will be used by DMV to pay for the training of staff on the Fair and Impartial Policing policy and implicit bias. DMV will also hire a third-party monitor to ensure compliance with the terms of the settlement.

A copy of the settlement can be found here.