BY VEENA RAO
Atlanta, GA, August 28, 2017: After attending to at least 183 complaints in recent weeks from people who were denied the Georgia driver’s license for not having a valid visa stamped on their passports (despite having a valid I-797 A Notice of Action or a valid I-94), the matter seems to have now been resolved, said Sunil Savili of Indian Friends of Atlanta (IFA).
“There was inconsistent interpretation of federal stipulations where some DMVs accepted I-797 and 1-94 as valid proofs of status, but some DMVs refused to accept these documents,” Savili said. The complaints came primarily from Cobb, Smryna and Cumming DMVs.
When efforts to communicate with the legal department of the Georgia Department of Driver Services went in vain, Savili spent several hours speaking to a legal team and coordinating with local lawmakers to resolve the issue. Asian Americans Advancing Justice- Atlanta, through its attorney Phi Nguyen, helped him communicate with the relevant officials. IFA also sent out legal notice to the DDS. The efforts bore fruit when the Attorney General of Georgia agreed that some of the field DDS offices were misinterpreting federal law.
“All field offices were verbally notified that licenses should be issued to individuals with an expired visa stamp as long as the person is otherwise eligible for a license,” Savili said.
IFA has received no further complaints about denial of GA driver’s license ever since the verbal notification was sent out to DDS officers.
“The DDS offices may have received a written notification. We are trying to get proof of it,” Savili said.
Of the 183 complainants who were victimized by the Georgia DMV, only four or five were willing to lend their names to IFA’s efforts.
“Ultimately only one person came forward,” said Savili. “Unfortunately, our people are scared. We must raise our voices to be heard. We must fight for our rights. We are not in the 1960s or 70s. We are a large, successful community. We are taxpayers.”
Events like the Freedom Mela are meant to raise our visibility in the community and our access to local authorities, he added.