State Weighs Repealing Driver Licenses of Ukrainian Immigrants

( – A year after granting Ukrainian immigrants on humanitarian parole the right to obtain driver’s licenses, Indiana lawmakers are attempting to repeal the legislation following a federal judge’s ruling deeming it discriminatory.

The controversial House Bill 1162, passed with bipartisan support on Monday, February 5, seeks to eliminate the provision allowing Ukrainians to get a driver’s license under a specific federal parole definition. This exclusion sparked a lawsuit from Haitian immigrants residing in Indiana under the same designation, who argued the law was unconstitutional and discriminatory.

However, a federal judge issued a temporary injunction in January striking down the Ukrainian provision and granting temporary licenses to all immigrants on humanitarian parole. Furthermore, the American Civil Liberties Union of Indiana (ACLU) and the National Immigration Law Center represent the Haitian plaintiffs in the ongoing lawsuit, aiming to remove the discriminatory stipulation permanently.

Moreover, the passage of the bill raises further concerns about its impact on the lawsuit. Gavin Rose, a senior staff attorney with the ACLU of Indiana, expressed his apprehension, stating that if House Bill 1162 becomes law, it would be “extremely concerning” to see the legislature take away Ukrainians’ ability to obtain driver’s licenses simply because Indiana was required to extend the same right to individuals from Haiti and other countries facing dire humanitarian situations.

Republicans advocating for the repeal argue that extending the privilege to all parolees undermines state control over immigration classifications dictated by the federal government.

Representative Jim Pressel, the bill’s Republican author, voiced his dissatisfaction with the lawsuit’s outcome, calling the situation a “mess” and criticizing the federal parole definition encompassing individuals from multiple countries. He emphasized the need for a senate discussion to uphold the original intent of last year’s law.

Representative Matt Lehman, House Republican floor leader, expressed concerns about potential security risks, stating that allowing all parolees to obtain licenses could grant access to this “coveted status” to “dishonest” individuals. He questioned the integrity of the national immigration policy and its potential to give licenses to individuals deemed problematic by the state.

Despite the lack of debate, the bill passed the Republican-controlled House with an overwhelming 89-8 majority and now awaits consideration by the state Senate.

Copyright 2024,