Courts & Corrections

DMV changing application process after discrimination case

The Department of Motor Vehicles in Montpelier. Photo by Elizabeth Hewitt/VTDigger

The Department of Motor Vehicles has settled a case with a Jordanian national who was detained by federal law enforcement after applying for a driver’s privilege card.

The DMV agreed to make several changes to the driver’s license application procedure and to department policies as part of a settlement in a Human Rights Commission case brought on behalf of Abdel Rababah.

Rababah makes it clear he is a proud southern Vermonter.

He first came to Windham County from Jordan in 2006 to study English. He stayed after his visa expired, finding a welcoming community and a wide circle of friends. People who know him describe him as kind, quick to help others and dedicated to his pursuits. When he first arrived in Vermont, his English was very limited, one friend recalled, but within months he had become proficient.

For eight years, Rababah said in an interview, he led a “peaceful life.” He took classes and spent time volunteering in the community, he said. The biggest issue was that he couldn’t drive.

“It’s a very rural area, so it’s very hard to access and to get from place A to place B,” Rababah said.

He managed to get by, getting rides from friends, but when he heard about the creation of driver’s privilege cards, he decided to head to the DMV.

The program, the result of 2013 legislation, was crafted with the intention of making driving privileges accessible to Vermont residents who are not in the country legally. While the cards require proof of residency in Vermont, they do not require proof of legal presence in the United States.

According to a Human Rights Commission investigation report made public in December, Rababah first went to the Dummerston DMV to get his driver’s permit in February 2014, just a few weeks after the law went into effect. He took his Jordanian passport, birth certificate and Social Security card, which is marked as valid only for work with authorization.

Dummerston DMV
The DMV office in Dummerston. Photo by Elizabeth Hewitt/VTDigger

He passed the written test and left with a permit.

When he returned two months later to take the road test to get his driver’s privilege card, the process did not go so smoothly.

The clerk who worked with Rababah asked him several questions about his identification.

On his application, Rababah answered “no” to a question asking whether he is a U.S. citizen. He left the following question, asking if he had proof of legal residence, blank. However, on his application, there was a black X marking that he did have legal residence, which the commission’s investigation determined was made by the DMV employee who processed his application. (In April, the DMV affirmed in a letter that Rababah did not falsify any part of the application.)

Rababah was issued a temporary driver’s privilege card in April 2014, but his case was referred to a DMV investigator. That person, who had contacted the federal government as part of his investigation, asked Rababah to come in for a meeting. When he arrived, an agent from U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement was there. Rababah was detained, and deportation proceedings were initiated against him.

“I was promised safety when accessing services from the DMV, and when I went to the DMV I went with good faith and good intention,” said Rababah, a slight figure with pale greenish eyes and close-cropped brown hair. “I had done nothing wrong.”

The experience was unlike anything he had experienced during his time in Vermont, he said.

“I never had any problem with anybody. I never had any problem with law enforcement,” Rababah said. “So when all of a sudden things happen like that it was, it was really (a) very, very unpleasant situation.”

‘It’s about trust’

To Rababah, it was immediately clear he had been treated unfairly. But the issue was much bigger than his experience alone. The violations were “too many and too big,” he said.

“As soon as the detective decided to deceive me, the case became a liberty … case, and more of a trust and safety issue about the community,” Rababah said.

“This experience, it affect(s) every Vermonter. It’s about the safety of the community. It’s about trust,” Rababah said. “If we can’t trust the system, how can we as people function in the community?”

It would take more than two years for Rababah’s legal ordeal to be resolved. He became involved with several different legal processes over the following months.

He declined to speak about the deportation proceedings.

Jay Diaz
Vermont ACLU attorney Jay Diaz speaks to lawmakers. File photo by Elizabeth Hewitt/VTDigger

Meanwhile, Rababah worked with the American Civil Liberties Union of Vermont and took his case to the Vermont Human Rights Commission.

Jay Diaz, the ACLU-VT attorney who represented Rababah, said the case pointed to a clear contradiction.

“It just seemed blatantly unfair that the state of Vermont would be holding up a carrot of lawful driving privileges to undocumented people and then hitting them with a stick of immigration-related arrest,” Diaz said Thursday.

DMV Commissioner Robert Ide said Friday that Rababah’s encounter at the DMV happened shortly after the driver’s privilege card program was implemented.

“We were learning, and our counter people were learning. I don’t think anyone intentionally set out to make his life difficult,” Ide said of Rababah.

Several other cases around the country as well as in Vermont are clarifying the rights of people who do not have documents authorizing them to live in the country, according to Diaz. He mentioned another recent Human Rights Commission case in which a sergeant with the Grand Isle County Sheriff’s Department detained a Mexican citizen and contacted U.S. Border Patrol.

“The law is becoming more and more clear around the country that this is an illegal practice, an unconstitutional practice and a discriminatory practice,” Diaz said.

Brendan O’Neill, of the group Migrant Justice, said Rababah’s case came to the organization’s attention at the same time there were concerns about implementation of the privilege card process.

Migrant Justice was a key player in the conception and passage of legislation creating the new form of identification.

“It’s a failure of the federal immigration system and the lack of action on comprehensive immigration reform that forces localities and states to figure out how to define more humane conditions,” O’Neill said.

The settlement

In December, the five members of the Human Rights Commission voted unanimously that based on an investigation into Rababah’s case, there were “reasonable grounds” to believe he had been discriminated against.

Through mediation, the case between Rababah and the DMV was resolved this month with an 11-point agreement that involves changes of several DMV policies.

The application for licenses and privilege cards will be altered to make it more clear for applicants who aren’t authorized to be in the country. The DMV agreed to add language clarifying that people interested in getting a driver’s privilege card do not need to answer a question about citizenship. Applications will also be offered in Spanish.

The DMV will develop a procedure for processing driver’s privilege cards and will take input from the Human Rights Commission and the ACLU of Vermont. The policies will include limitations on when front-line staff can refer privilege card applications for investigation. Staff members who work at DMV counters and managers will be trained in those procedures.

The agreement also refers to the guidelines for fair and impartial policing that the Vermont Criminal Justice Training Council adopted this year.

Department of Motor Vehicles Commissioner Robert Ide. VTD/Josh Larkin
Motor Vehicles Commissioner Robert Ide. File Photo by Josh Larkin/VTDigger

Ide said the mediation process in Rababah’s case was “very productive and helpful.”

“I don’t think it significantly changes how we do things, but I think it adds some clarity, and it adds clarity for our counter workers too,” Ide said.

The department rolled out the driver’s privilege cards concurrently with the implementation of REAL ID cards, which require a higher level of identification and meet a federal standard.

Ide said the department has seen far more applications for driver’s privilege cards than anticipated across Vermont’s population, not just among people living in the U.S. without authorization. As of June 2015, some 40,000 Vermonters had the privilege cards instead of a REAL ID — far more than the estimated migrant worker population of 1,500. Some people may prefer the cards; others may get them because they require a lower level of documentation.

There have been concerns about fraudulent applications for driver’s privilege cards. According to Capt. Jake Elovirta, the DMV’s enforcement and safety director, investigations have found 350 fraudulent applications for the form of ID since it was implemented in 2014.

Elovirta said the DMV does sometimes use contacts with the federal government in verifying applications and issuing driver’s licenses. Those connections are meant to be used as tools, he said.

Ide said that since Rababah applied for driving privileges in 2014, the department has already been working to implement some training around how to process the cards. He added that he welcomes the input of the commission.

“The circumstances are what they are, and we’ve agreed to rectify that in a way that seems to appease him,” Ide said of Rababah.

Human Rights Commission Executive Director Karen Richards said she is very happy with the final agreement.

Richards said Rababah’s case raised concerns that other people could be deterred from performing basic day-to-day tasks out of fear.

“What we really worry about is that it has a chilling effect on people if they don’t feel comfortable getting into a car to bring their children to school” or to run other errands like picking up groceries, she said.

“The Department of Motor Vehicles really took this seriously and was willing to make a lot of changes that I think will improve access for people to the driver’s privilege card in the manner that the law intended,” Richards said.

Rababah was also awarded $40,000 in damages, some of which he plans to donate, including to two southern Vermont institutions that have been important to him over the years: Vermont Adult Learning, where he studied and fine-tuned his English, and his local library.

‘I think it’s about improving’

When Rababah first came to the United States from Jordan, he said, he expected Americans would welcome him because of the warm diplomatic relationship between the two countries.

“Jordan has been a key ally to the U.S., and I always had thought that this would be enough reason for me not to be targeted,” Rababah said. “Unfortunately, it was the other way around.”

The settlement with the DMV was finalized about two years and three months after Rababah was detained by Customs and Immigration.

He said the situation led to considerable emotional distress. He is suspicious when strangers ask questions about his life. He gets nervous. He said he has found it difficult to make new friends.

“There is nothing really can be done by the DMV to fix the damage done to me,” Rababah said.

However, he believes the terms of the settlement will help communities across Vermont and will make the system better.

Rababah is grateful to his community, and to the attorneys and others who helped him.

When the case he had spent so much of his time working on ended, he felt like a part of him was missing, he said.

“It’s not about winning or losing, no,” Rababah said. “I think it’s about improving.”

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Elizabeth Hewitt

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  • Mary Williams

    He has been here since 2006. Have immigration and DMV nothing better to do?

    • David R. Black

      ICE and DMV were just doing their job. He is here illegally and should be delt with because he willfully committed a criminal act like over staying his visa and not reporting to authorities.

      • Darin Gillies

        it is actually a criminal act. It is illegal to be in the country after your visa expires.

        • Jan van Eck

          Actually, apparently not. Lots of people overstay their tourist visas and the Government ignores them. Being an undocumented person found within the US is not a criminal act. If the Feds decide to remove you, they do that administratively. This peculiar wrinkle in the law is what causes so much confusion among the public. Cheers.

          • Paul Richards

            It is clear to me that we need to shut down immigration until we can get a handle on the current absolute mess we have. We have become a sanctuary country, ignoring our own laws, allowing and encouraging people from all over the globe to come and take advantage of us. It’s a crisis that needs to be stopped. Let the liberals get their votes from somewhere else.

          • Jan van Eck

            Sure, and that is a policy decision that the current voters have the perfect right to go make, through their elected Representative in Congress, if they want to, are motivated to, and can convince the elected representatives to enact, and the President to agree, and the Supreme Court Justices to not vacate.

            Whether or not that policy prescriptive is any good, or not good, is a value judgment of the people assembled. Up to them. One of the nice things about Americans is that they can reserve the right to be either right or wrong about anything and everything, as they choose. Not like the House of Lords which makes decisions entirely removed from the will of the populace peaceably assembled. America: ya gotta love it, noisy and fractious, great even when it is wrong. Cheers. PS Don’t forget to sit down when they do that salute the flag thing, or as Nancy Reagan would say: “Just say No.” Baseball: the great social leavener.

          • William Hays

            Jan; if what you aver is true, we need to change the law. If not, we need to enforce the existing statutes. Could Congress possibly do this? I doubt it!

          • Jan van Eck

            Hey, don’t yell at me, I didn’t write the Statutes. Keep in mind that a lot of the current approach flows back to 110 years ago, when you could stroll off some immigration steamboat from Europe and become an instant American, no passport needed. And you could vote in Federal elections the same day, no citizenship test for voter registration either. And if you think the current situation in the USA is a mess, I would point to Western Europe, now being flooded by the largest mass of displaced persons the planet has ever known – even more than after WWII.

            As an aside, it is perfectly logical that a person here as a tourist can overstay a visa without criminal violation. The US has historically had open borders with both Canada ans Mexico. People moved back and forth constantly, blithely ignoring administrative Regulations. Along the Vermont Northern Border, look at the inter-meshing of border towns such as Derby Line and Stanstead; that border runs right through some buildings, including the (joint) library and an apartment block. There is even a street, Canusa Avenue, where the border line runs down the middle of it. The residents have been casually strolling over that border for centuries without giving it a second thought. And so have the first responders, including medics and firefighters (together with their vehicles). Can you imagine how much of a mess it now is when the fire trucks have to queue at the Border for “inspection” and the town on the other side is burning?

            When that oil train derailed in Lac Megantic, US volunteer departments from Maine towns 50 miles away raced up there to help the overwhelmed local volunteer department, as half of the Town was burning down, incinerating 47 Canadians. At least those border inspectors had the good sense to wave those trucks and crews through. That sure beats the performance at Plattsburgh, where the Canadian equipment was held and each firefighter had to show identity papers, while a commercial building in Plattsburgh burned to the ground for lack of water and firefighters.

            Look around Vermont and calculate just how many current and former Vermonters are married to Canadians, and now live on both sides of the Line. Or pick up a phone book and scan all the French names in there. Migration is a constant feature of the State’s history. No rational reason to go making some artificial clamp on that pattern now.

          • Patricia Jedlicka

            Congress is a big part of the problem. There is no political will whatsoever to enforce the laws that are already on the books. We are becoming balkanized.

          • Jan van Eck

            You can write “thumbs-down” all day long, but that does not change the peculiar way the current laws are structured. You don’t like the immigration law, then go petition your Members of Congress for changes. It is what it is.

          • Paul Richards

            Are you referring to the actual written law, what our government is SUPPOSED to be upholding or what has become practiced law as declared by the liberals? There is a BIG difference.

          • It is illegal. The government chooses not to prosecute this crime in most cases. many people that legally immigrate here spent $20k + to do so. I think we should take to $40K that this guy got and use it for a plane ticket back to his home. Clearly he is uncomfortable here and can’t trust anyone. This story makes me sick. rewarding someone that broke the law and gamed the system.

          • Robert dock

            I think he trust American people, but not people with your attitude.

          • Patricia Jedlicka

            The government ‘ignores’ them because they do not know where they are! Although a system was supposedly put in place to keep track of people who come to visit (on a visa) it appears to have never been fully implemented. No one cares. Remember, the 9/11 terrorists were visa overstays. Just sayin’.

        • Tom Star

          It’s not! Do your homework.

        • Mia Arnold

          No, it’s not a crime. Look it up!

      • john mardock

        Do you actually believe your own nonsense?

        • David R. Black

          As of now, I got 31 up and you got 0

        • All my life and my ancestors before me respected the law, Now it means nothing! You are watching the demise of America, inch by inch…

      • Donald Valentine

        Who do you think you are kidding??? I don’t care if the man is a saint.
        He is clearly an overstay who apparently made no effort to extend his visa or seek legal residence status, either of which he clearly has had more than ample time to seek. The crime is his and his alone and the DMV should be applauded
        for tipping Immigration & Customs Enforcement that he was coming in. That is
        how law enforcement agencies are supposed to work together but too often
        do not, especially here in Vermont in recent years. The man should clearly be picked up and deported as an overstay. This is little more than a sneaky and criminal way of trying to slip into the US without due process and those that support are the type of fools that make this nation unsafe for those who have a right to be here. There is a process to become a citizen and it does NOT include by overstaying a visa. The process was put in place for good reason and those who do not follow it are criminals, including Mr. Rababah.

        • Robert dock

          People with your ideas make us less safe. How do you expect undocumented people to report crimes if this is your attitude?

        • Mary Williams

          You are as funny as Trump! Of course you have his nonsense too.

        • George cole

          I just feel sorry for you. What must it be like to live filled with so much hate.

        • Gary Bloom

          We don’t really care that you don’t care! Have you no shame, Sir? Justice has been served.

      • Mia Johnson

        ICE should do its job in an honest way and it’s not the DMV place to get involved in immigration cases.

  • Jon Corrigan

    Jordanian Labour Ministry inspection teams conducted 94,136 field visits in 2015, detaining 28,341 illegal workers, fining 13,908 institutions and warning 14,497 others
    The ministry deported 5,735 illegal workers and closed 1,635 institutions violating the law.
    I’ll bet Mr. Rababah knows how it works in his home country.

    • David Arnold

      I don’t know where you got your number, but they wouldn’t do harm to any American. I have been there.

      • Patricia Jedlicka

        I believe one has to have a work permit to be employed in Jordan, or a sponsor. You cannot just go to Jordona on a visa and decide you are not going to leave. Doesn’t work that way there, does it

      • Jon Corrigan

        I posted information from a Jordanian newspaper report. Could you kindly point out where I stated Jordan would ‘do harm to any American’? I’ve been there too, as well as most of the other mid-east countries – strangest thing is they enforce their laws as well as their borders. No amount of sob-story journalism makes a difference in their courts.

        • Mia Arnold

          Did they alter your application? Did they deceive you? The answer is no. That’s exactly what the DMV did to this guy. HIs immigration problems are irrelevant.

  • Don Dixon

    “He stayed after his visa expired,” ” Vermont residents who are not in the country legally, “”
    undocumented people,” “people who do not have documents authorizing them to live in the country, “” applicants who aren’t authorized to be in the country.” Are you suggesting someone in the country illegally? With all due respect, and while I do feel for those seeking better lives, there is a legal way to (enter and) remain in the country.

    • Neil Johnson***c

      And they print, “Rababah makes it clear he is a proud southern Vermonter.” This statement makes is clear that Rababah is making a false statement or giving a piece of information deliberately presented as being true, he’s not even a US Citizen, how can he be a Vermonter?

      He’s making the statement that he’s a proud southern Vermonter with the intention to deceive and give the wrong impression. He’s here illegally, he’s a criminal in southern Vermont, that’s about it. Perhaps if he deals some drugs from the Chinese restaurant in Bennington, he can get some more money from our state for racial profiling. How is this justice? How does this make any sense?

      And clearly, nobody told him you have to be born in Vermont…..:) even those of us who have multiple generations born instate, but were born out of state have trouble pulling off the real Vermonter status.

  • Lydia Cale

    “He ILLEGALLY stayed after his visa expired, finding a welcoming community and a wide circle of friends.”

    Fixed that for you.

    “I had done nothing wrong.”

    But.. but… he was in the country illegally. I’m going to start picking and choosing which laws I will follow, ok?

  • Chuck Taylor

    Illegal and costing us time and money! Only in Vermont folks. If you don’t want to be hassled then do things right and legal like. What a joke.

    • William Hays

      Is Vermont a “Sanctuary State”? I hadn’t heard that. $40,000 for breaking the law? Cool!

  • If someone is here illegally, they are breaking the law and should be shipped back to their country. Instead our officials rewarded him with 40, 000., Something is very wrong. This was also taxpayers money.

    • gary stewart

      Maybe you should tell the official not to alter his documents and not to deceive him.

  • Paul White

    Rather than blame the DMV, if he wants to live here why not do it legally?

    • Jill Alberts

      Are you suggesting that the DMV should not take responsibility, or face consequences, for its illegal actions?

  • Chris Laden

    If we really want to get all the facts, why not report, or try to report how many taxes he has paid, or avoided in his years here illegal?? He states he has never had a problem, never done anything wrong…….. except break the law!!!!!!!

  • Paul Richards

    “It’s about trust,” Rababah said. “If we can’t trust the system, how can we as people function in the community?””
    If we clearly can’t trust that people will leave after their visa’s run out. This is a great example of wide spread, blatant abuse of our laws and obfuscation of duty by our law enforcement to uphold the laws they took an oath to enforce. How long he has been here, what he has been doing and all of that has nothing to do with the fact that he broke our laws and we allowed him to do it. Now we have spent more time and energy on this person who has committed illegal acts than we do on our own veterans who have fought to protect us. Is it too much t ask our government to simply uphold our laws? Time for a moratorium on immigration again.

    • gary stewart

      You can’t break laws to enforce a single civil violation. Go read the story instead of enjoying making these comments.

    • Amy Alexander

      Exactly. If we can’t “trust” foreigners to follow the laws pertaining to their visa, perhaps we shouldn’t allow foreigners…you know, so we can function as a law-abiding community. You can’t tell me that NO ONE knew this guy wasn’t legal. If he’s employed, his employer should be arrested. If he’s not, whomever is supporting him (and please don’t tell me he’s on assistance or hitting the food pantries) should be arrested.

  • Illegal is illegal. I’m sorry but there are plenty of folks who came here legally.

  • Steve Allen

    The intent of my comment is not to pass judgment on this individual. I would just like to hear an explanation as to why, if we already have an existing pathway to legal immigration, millions of people continue to be allowed to live here illegally? As is the case with so many issues that confront us in the 21st century I believe there is much more to this than meets the eye.

    From one political viewpoint we have a pathway to legal immigration that all people (political refugees excluded) can follow. From the other side the issue seems to be buried in emotion and political ideology. In the recently leaked documents from George Soros’s Open Society Justice Initiative they show a desire to redistribute the world population with the fuel for this plan coming from the unlimited wealth of Mr. Soros. The UN is also a strong backer of this desire. This is having a very negative result in the EU due to very strong feelings of Nationalism. Currently we are being lead to believe that pride in one’s own nationality and heritage is wrong, and if you are of Northern European descent this pride came at the expense of other peoples freedoms and rights.

    So I am asking again, why do we condone illegal immigration when there is a method to legally become a U.S. citizen? If you say our immigration laws are broken, then why is there not a ongoing effort to fix them?

    • Paul Richards

      “If you say our immigration laws are broken, then why is there not a ongoing effort to fix them?”
      Because they are just as the liberals want them. The laws are not “broken” the liberal government is broken. They are purposely ignoring the laws so they can remain in power and cement their reign over us. ALL of these illegals support the democrats. All they have to do is wave their magic wand and they become democrat voters. It’s their endless feeder program. Once they have seized enough power they will finish destroying the constitution and the bill of rights and this nation will be finished having submitted to the new world order. It’s not too hard to figure out what is going on if you pay attention.

    • Steve Allen

      I am still waiting for someone from the side defending illegal immigration to answer my question. If we have a method of legally becoming a U.S. citizen, why are there so many people in the country illegally?

      • Jan van Eck

        The current quota system.

        • Steve Allen

          What is the quota system based on?

          • Jan van Eck

            Politics. Basically, a system devised by Congress to make sure the current ethnic and national-origin mix is not altered. We are white and from Northern Europe, so we shall stay white and from Northern Europe. That is accomplished by having 675,000 visa slots, with 480,000 allocated to immediate family members, 140,000 to specialized job-skill slots, and a “lottery” of 50,000 visas for everybody else. Basically, unless the migrant was related directly to a US family (and was sponsored by the family), or had a unique job skill, you were out of luck.

            With millions applying for the lottery slots, getting the nod is a bit like winning the Powerball. Pretty much a closed door. Or you can treat yourself to an EB-5 visa if you have the coin.

            Don’t feel bad. The system is a marked improvement over Egypt, where the current government grants zero visas. Then again, nobody much is clamoring at that door.

  • Chris LaMothe

    “He stayed after his visa expired” End of discussion! He broke the law!!!

    • Danial Miller

      That’s not the discussion. His rights were violated by the state.

  • Amber Goss

    I’m a little confused. If his visa expired, why does he have a case? Seems like the state rolled over when he hired a lawyer. And then they paid him $40,000 to boot. Maybe Vermont should just work on improving its public transportation system so they don’t have to pay for this program or other lawsuits!

    • Jan van Eck

      It is not “illegal” to be within the United States as an undocumented person. A person with an expired visa may be subject to administrative removal procedures by the Government, usually resolved by that person departing voluntarily when so Noticed. What is “illegal” is to undertake paid work without a work Permit (typically via a special visa, different from a tourist visa). Lots of people are in the US without residency permits, living quietly. Plenty of older Canadians travel to Florida for the winter, six months at a clip; some simply never go back to the Snow Kingdom. And again, that is not “illegal.”

      One of the ironies of the current Big Debate about Central Americans, reputed to be 11 million, is that there are likely even more Canadians in the US as undocumented persons. They are quite off the radar as they speak Americanized English and blend in. They also don’t cause much trouble, other than the irascible ones writing on VT Digger, or competing with the locals for marriageable women (or men), to the consternation of love rivals. Oh, well.

      • Paul White

        Actually, it is illegal. The distinction you’re trying to make may be that it is CIVILLY illegal as opposed to CRIMINALLY illegal, but it’s illegal none the less. And Amber, the reason he has a case is because the great liberal state of Vermont thinks that it knows better than the federal government of the United States what makes good immigration policy and what doesn’t. What’s illegal in the other 49 states is quite often tolerated or even welcomed here. Go figure.

        • Jan van Eck

          Sorry, Paul, there is no such thing as “civil illegal.” What you are facing is a failure to conform to an administrative regulation. “Civil illegal” does not exist; is an act is “illegal” it is in violation of a criminal Statute. Just because some folks like to rant about “illegal aliens” does not make an alien “illegal.” Again, if the people don’t like it, then go petition Congress to change the Statute and not rely on the CFR’s or other administrative rules. Nuff said.

          I also remind all correspondents that the protections of the US Constitution including of course the Bill of Rights extends to all persons found on US Soil, no matter how those persons ended up on US soil. That issue was finally put to bed by a person in transit down at JFK airport. The ICE people apparently arrested someone from an inbound flight on some document imperfection. Upon the filing of a writ of habeas corpus to the US District Court, the Government attempted to argue that, because the Petitioner was technically inside the Customs Inspection Station and had not been Admitted administratively to the US, he was not inside America. To which, the Judge inquired: “And whose flag flies over that airport?” Upon the Government’s admission that the US Flag flew over the airport, the Court found that the alien was in US Soil, and thus entitled to all the protections of the US Constitution, which does not differentiate between classes of persons on US soil.

          Be thankful for those protections; the next guy that will need them is YOU. And herewith endeth the lesson for today.

          • Dennis Works

            Jan van Eck: Part one of your comments above I take issue with. There is indeed such a thing as a civil “illegal act”. Generally, the biggest difference between breaking a civil law and breaking a criminal law are the penalties that are applied and also, at times, who actually files charges. “Illegal presence” as the offense is called, is not a violation of the U.S. criminal code, and as such, a person cannot be sent to prison for being here without authorization from immigration authorities. It is, however, a violation of civil immigration laws, for which the federal government can impose civil penalties, namely deportation. To say something is not “illegal” because it is a civil violation instead of a criminal violation is a distinction without a difference except for the possible penalties. If you doubt that, go ahead and fail to follow the various CFRs and see the result.

            The second part of your comments, whereas you state that the protections of the Constitution apply to “illegal” aliens, you are mostly correct, and was decided by the U.S. Supreme Court over 100 years ago in the case of ‘Yick Wo v. Hopkins (1886)’ (14th Amendment) expanded with ‘Wong Wing v. U.S. (1896)’ (5th and 6th Amendments), and further expanded with ‘Plyler v. Doe (1982)’ (Equal Protection Clause). However, the Supreme Court has not decided on all of the ‘Bill of Rights’ protections to this point. For example, until recently, “illegal” aliens did not have 2nd Amendment rights. About a year ago the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that “illegal aliens” do indeed have 2nd Amendment rights in the case of ‘U.S. v. Meza-Rodriguez’ – though it also said the government can constitutionally prohibit them from owning firearms and ammunition (figure out that one – it’s quite the oxymoron!). Anyway, I suspect that case, or a similar one will eventually make it’s way to the U.S. Supreme Court. The point is that the U.S. Supreme Court has NOT answered that particular question in its entirety just yet.

          • Jan van Eck

            OK, Dennis, I grant you that aliens without residency permits cannot carry firearms without a carry permit, and I would fall off my chair if one were granted by a police authority. Getting past that, your reference to “civil illegal act” and then referencing the Consolidated Federal Regulations has a certain inherent contradiction in it. The CFR’s are by definition “Regulations,” not Statutes, so at best they would be “quasi-laws,” not really “laws,” as they did not pass muster in Congress – but were enacted by bureaucrats.

            That argument probably won’t get you far before some District Court Judge, but it does provide fertile grounds to contest detention, assuming the alien has the money and the capacity to contest the Government. You end up with this two-tier dispensation of justice: if the alien is a prosperous investor or businessman, he ends up with a Notice and a Hearing Appearance date ticket, if anyone is going to even bother, and if he is some bracero speaking Spanish, he gets tossed into some internment camp. Hardly fair and equitable, now is it?

            Meanwhile, at the risk of being pedantic, “illegal presence” may be what some immigration officer would call it, but I suggest “unauthorized and undocumented presence” is more on point. You indicate the CFR’s call it “illegal presence,” but let’s remember, the CFRs are written by government bureaucrats in their little empires in DC and reflect their prejudices, and were emphatically not written by Congress, which has the exclusive authority to pass criminal Statutes.

            Let me give you an example, hypothetical to be sure, but reasonably foreseeable. Some private pilot, a Canadian, is heading from Bowmanville, Ontario out to Winnipeg, so his route takes him over the Soo and the southern shore of Lake Superior until he gets near Thunder Bay. He avoids the North Shore as it is hilly and rocky and no place to set down in an emergency. Sure enough, he has this night engine failure and puts it down at Marquette. But it is midnight, there is no ICE Inspector on duty (for all I know the nearest Inspector may be stationed in Duluth) so he breaks the first CFR by not sleeping in the airplane until inspected, and instead going to a hotel.

            The next morning the mechanics tell him he needs a special part and the nearest one is in Duluth, so he hops a bus ride over to go fetch. The bus rolls into Duluth and a roving team of ICE Inspectors board that bus. Oops; he is an unauthorized entrant into the US, subject to fine and deportation – in theory, and without his airplane. So says the CFRs. But is that really going to happen? Probably not; our pilot will be having this amiable chat with the Inspector because hey this sort of thing happens to Americans transiting between Alaska and the Lower 48, and with pilots flying from Detroit to Niagara and avoiding heavy weather over Lake Erie, and the Canadians are nice about it. A civil violation is not “illegal,” but it is violative of required protocol for entrance via official inspection.

            The reality is that large numbers of people drift across that border and nobody much cares, including immigration officers. But that assumes you are Canadian or American, and not some other. Illustrative of this, last month some 1,500 Americans doing the annual drunken inner-tube float down the St. Clair River were pushed over to the Sarnia shore by a stiff 30-knot wind; those unwitting entrants to Canada were seriously undocumented, being in their swim trunks! It was “washing up Americans,” most of whom entered Canada with undeclared open bottles of booze. The Canadians trundled out a fleet of transit buses from Sarnia and eventually ferried them back over the Border. Nobody worried much about it; hey, 1,500 drunks stumbling about, just another day at the Border.

            Now as to your comment about “fail to follow the CFRs and see the result,” I reply that since real-world enforcement is haphazard, then strict application against one specific individual is challengeable under the doctrine of the Government undertaking arbitrary and capricious invocation of Regulations. Another difficult area for Government prosecutors.

          • Dennis Works

            Jan van Eck: I find no contradiction in my speaking about “civil illegal act” and then referencing the CFR. It has long been recognized, including by the Supreme Court, that Congress has the implied power to delegate legislative authority to the Executive Branch (where CFRs virtually always originate) as long as Congress provides an “intelligible principle” to guide the Executive Branch.

            In the case of ‘J. W. Hampton, Jr. & Co. v. United States’ (1928) the Supreme Court said “‘In determining what Congress may do in seeking assistance from another branch, the extent and character of that assistance must be fixed according to common sense and the inherent necessities of the government coordination.’ So long as Congress ‘shall lay down by legislative act an intelligible principle to which the person or body authorized to [exercise the delegated authority] is directed to conform, such legislative action is not a forbidden delegation of legislative power.'”

            There were also several other Supreme Court rulings on the subject the ‘Doctrine of Non-delegation’, going back as far as 1825 and the case of ‘Wayman v. Southard’. Basically, Congress is passing certain legislation and then leaving it to the Executive Branch (and sometimes the Judicial Branch) to create and enforce the rules used to police that legislation.

            And finally, regarding the last sentence in your comments, in which you said: “… since real-world enforcement is haphazard, then strict application against one specific individual is challengeable under the doctrine of the Government undertaking arbitrary and capricious invocation of Regulations. Another difficult area for Government prosecutors.” It is not unusual at all for government to use its discretion as to what laws/regulations it will enforce, and to what degree. For example, President Obama has been heavily criticized by Republicans in Congress for declaring he would not enforce certain immigration laws, in particular laws regarding so-called “anchor babies”. There is also the situation where the Federal government has decided to not enforce Federal marijuana laws and go after marijuana growers, buyers, etc. as long as they are following the State laws in which they operate. And I can assure you that probably most Presidents have avoided enforcing certain laws they found to be unfair, untenable, unsupportable, or unconstitutional in their mind.

            Thank you for the sane, civil, and thoroughly enjoyable discussion.

          • Jan van Eck

            Mr. Works: you are perfectly correct in the observation that Congress has the inherent authority to delegate “fleshing out” of Statute to the Executive branch. The Judicial Branch may not “create and enforce the rules,” that conflicts with the function of the judiciary which is to opine on the conflicts of law with the Constitution. And you correctly observe that the CFR’s are taken to have the force of Statute, even though their path of origin lies with the Executive.

            That said, the “intelligible principle” caveat you quote also stands as a bar to arbitrary Rules, enacted by bureaucrats at their whim. So a Rule found in the CFR’s is more vulnerable to attack by one aggrieved by its enforcement against him. Although the courts tend to grant wide latitude to the Government Departments to make those rules, and avoid being micro-managers of their executive discretion, that does not afford the “discretionary authority” be be arbitrary or other than even-handed in their enforcement.

            For example, take the case of a truck manufacturer who constructs two fuel tanks, one each side, and connects the tank bottoms with a cross-over pipe. His competitors do the same. The Govt Regs require that the tank have no bottom aperture or pipe take-off, for leakage safety reasons. Some inspector comes into his plant and shuts down production, ordering no truck to be sold, citing the violation. He argues that the Government is being arbitrary and capricious in its enforcement, because it has been tolerating or ignoring his competitors for the past two decades. This fellow has a decent shot at succeeding in Court.

            In your example of the government deciding to to enforce against “anchor babies,” then it has to take that posture towards ALL anchor babies, and refrain from deporting anchor babies of Ed Snowden because he has embarrassed the Government and exposed the bad behavior of certain bureaucrats. The Government has the obligation to treat everyone equally, because this is (not yet) some autocratic regime as you would find in say Egypt.

            The best posture for government officials: be nice, be gentle, be Christian, and be humble. And be humble before God and everything else should fall into place. Cheers.

          • Dennis Works

            Jan van Eck: When I said “Basically, Congress is passing certain legislation and then leaving it to the Executive Branch (and sometimes the Judicial Branch) to create and enforce the rules used to police that legislation”, my inclusion of the Judicial Branch in that sentence wasn’t meant to imply that Congress has also delegated power to the Judiciary to “create rules” like the Executive Branch can, but more to acknowledge that Congress HAS given the Judiciary the power to create rules within their own branch as to how they will proceed in fulfilling their duties. Hopefully, this clarifies why I included the Judicial Branch in that one sentence.

            Other than that, I think we are mostly in agreement. The only other thing I would find any possible disagreement with is your final paragraph when you say “… be Christian…”. I don’t have a problem with that as a personal practice, as long as it does not interfere with the particular official’s fair and secular performance of their duties. For example, Rowan County Clerk Kim Davis’ refusal to grant marriage licenses to same-sex couples because it was “against her faith” brought “being Christian” to an unacceptable level for a supposedly secular government official. But that’s another story. Thanks again.

          • Jan van Eck

            Mr. Works: When I write “be Christian” I am referencing a posture of being kind, being especially solicitous of the poor, and being humble. Those are also secular goals when in government service (at least, the service part). Clerk Kim Davis’ behavior is emphatically not Christian.

            I would also posit that it is not a requirement to have a belief in God to be a Christian. It is how you comport towards others that is the determinant. As you say, another story for another day. Cheers.

        • Danial Miller

          He came here in 2006, so I don’t understand your point about liberal.

      • William Hays

        Long-term (179-day) Canadian visitors are required to have very expensive health insurance during their stay. Socialist Canada will not cover them out-of-country, as my Medicare and Tricare does for me.

        • Jan van Eck

          Yup, Canada is an imperfect society. Another good reason not to live there.

  • Ron Peterson

    Where is our sense of justice? What the DMV did is wrong.

    • Paul Richards

      Where is the justice for the rest of us? It’s high time the government protects its legal citizens with the same zeal they do the people breaking the laws. Only in an America transformed by the liberals does a criminal get a government sanctioned payment stolen from legal citizens. THIS IS WRONG!

      • Danial Miller

        Your sense of justice so wrong.

  • This person overstayed his visa! He is here illegally! How did he get a Social Security card? How did he make a living? Where did the funding come for his $40,000 settlement? As of 2015 40,000 driver “privilege” ID cards issues in VT! The whole population of VT is around 600,000 how does that figure?? Lots of questions goes on and on regarding this program. And then the ACLU hassles people trying to uphold the laws!

    • Jill Alberts

      I’m a US citizen who has a driver’s privilege card instead of a drivers license out of principle. I don’t like the whole national-ID-card / gov’t surveillance aspect of what drivers licenses have become. (For travel, I use my passport as federal ID)

      • Adam Hold

        How is a national ID card diffefent than a passport?

        • Jan van Eck

          It will have your address, your social security number, at least one fingerprint, and (for immigrant residents) a series of other invasive features probably including DNA coding and/or retinal scans. National ID cards can be rather nasty things. They can have chip encoders that are trackable at choke-points such as subway turnstiles or building entrances. They would certainly be machine-readable, probably from a distance, like a gasoline wave-passcard. To understand the mentality of bureaucrats that design those things, see the movie “V for Vendetta.” Sets it forth rather neatly.

  • don miller

    This backlash reeks of jealousy.

    • Jan van Eck

      Nah. Just a lack of understanding of the nuances of the American legal system, which developed in large part in reaction to the abuses and oppressive nature of feudal British Laws, themselves founded on the principle that the King sat by right of God, and thus was never wrong. The guys at Bunker Hill rather took exception to those ideas. And now you know why Americans are fond of guns (and if you still can’t figure it out, go talk to the descendants of the guys at Lexington).

      Dislike of things British, and of Tories generally, has driven a ton of US law and policy.

  • edward letourneau

    So are we being told its now wrong for government to ask if someone has broken the law? — that is my takeaway from this story.

    • Danial Miller

      You are being told not to alter other people documents and not to deceive them especially those you promised.

      • William Hays

        Tell that to the EB-5 applicants.

  • Kim Hebert

    So let me get this straight. This man over stays his visa and we award him damages? Remind me again how “Girls Gone Wild” was taken off the air.

    • Jan van Eck

      Well now, if someone overstays his visa, and the Administration is unhappy, then they can commence proceedings to have him administratively removed. But, and this is a very big “but,” that protocol must scrupulously conform to the rigorous tests and protections afforded everyone on US soil, including those that are overstays, and even those that arrived here by swimming in from Tenerife or Cuba, by the Bill of Rights and the US Constitution. This is not Egypt, where the Government has carte blanche to toss anyone it does not much like into some jail. Yes, the US Government does do that (and would love to do that with guys that acutely embarrass it, such as Ed Snowden), but the administrative reactions of government bureaucrats does not emboss their precipitous acts with legitimacy. And that is why everyone has the right of habeas corpus petitions (and to sue for damages if abused by some government bureaucrat, which sadly happens all the time).

      So to answer your question, yes damages are awarded when employees of a level of government trample upon fundamental rights. And that is why they are fundamental. Now once again, of you don’t much like that, then go convince your friends and neighbors to hold a Constitutional Convention, have the delegates go re-write the Constitution, craft a new governing document, and that new Document can also outlaw your right to hold a picket sign on Pennsylvania Avenue, your right to stand on a soapbox on the Town Green, your right to pass out leaflets denouncing some martinet, whatever religion you disagree with, and for that matter the right of the housewife next door to pregnancy termination at age 45. Be careful what your passions wish for; it spins out of control very fast.

  • Illegal is Illegal is Illegal !!! Vermont is NOT a nation by itself!

    Too many ill-informed progressives are running this tiny little state and are blind to the larger picture of what foreign immigration is all about.

    Maybe Hillary should apply for Sec. of State in Vermont after losing her bid for the Presidency. And work closely with the ignoramus Mayor of Rutland…

    • Tom Star

      You are right. Vermont is not a nation and that’s why the DMV has no business to violate this person rights.

  • John pedine

    Sorry for his inconvenience, but why is someone in this country illegally allowed to have a license?

    • Jeanne Norris

      They are allowed because the great State of VT allows it!! and pays them real money to boot!
      Maybe we should all get in on this free cash for breaking laws!!

    • Mia Arnold

      To make sure they are safe drivers, so nobody get hurt. Does that make sense?

  • Peter Starr

    “Rababah was also awarded $40,000 in damages”.
    ~I’m totally speechless …. what a country, what a state
    They gave forty thousand of OUR Tax dollars to some who over stayed their Visa …

    • kate lynch

      “Rababah was also awarded $40,000 in damages,some of which he plans to donate”. Hmmm, I wonder if that ever happened and exactly how much he donated? Could vtdigger find that out for us?

      • Mary Williams

        That’s his money and he can do whatever he likes with it.

  • Peter Starr

    I’m going to leave Vermont and move back to America, I have had it!

  • I just had to look at the composition and pay rate of this board:
    1 Director
    4 Examiners
    3 Admin Assistants

    No judges in the crew

    Fy15 pay/ benefits for the top three members:
    K Richards-Director
    Salary 90.8K. Total Compensation 111.5K

    E Maxon-Examiner
    Salary 56K. Total 81.2K

    N Campbell- Examiner
    Salary 52.8K. Total 69.7. K

    Amazing this has happened and that their decisions seem to be binding with no recourse.

    • jessie stewart

      You are getting personal! Not cool

      • Amy Alexander

        Public information. Absolutely nothing wrong facts.

  • Jan van Eck

    Yup, he could drive with an International Motorist’s Permit, assuming the local constable actually knows what it is. A Jordanian one might be written also in French. Likely restricted to a gross vehicle weight below 18,000 lbs, though, and without the ability to tow a trailer. Not sure about a farm tractor. Hey, this is America, and the long-standing rule is “Catching before hanging.” Ask any adventurer from the Old West.

  • jessie stewart

    Very interesting to see people making comments without even reading the story. It’s very simple…the state violated his rights.

  • jessie stewart

    DMV staff and ICE agents are very active here!

    • Jan van Eck

      Nah. Don’t underestimate the ability of your friends and neighbors to go off the rails. And compared to some places, Vermont is actually rather mild. In Kansas, they go hunt down physicians with guns and shoot them dead in church on Sunday morning. Welcome to America.

  • Kathy Leonard

    “Native American Council Offers Amnesty to 240 Million Undocumented Whites” —

  • David Arnold

    I have been to Jordan. The Jordanian officials don’t falsify American people documents and they don’t deceive them. They treated us nicely. I don’t know why all this nonsense here.

  • Phyllis North

    Vermont caves again. I know Obama wants to let in as many immigrants possible (whom he hopes will become Democratic voters), but we really should be setting and enforcing limits. Millions of people would move here if they could . We don’t have the room and resources and jobs to welcome all of them. Let’s send aid to help them where they live, but enforce our laws against illegal immigration, including the 40% of illegals who simply overstay their visas.

    • Gary Bloom

      He first came here when Bush was the President. Stop your nonsense…please.

  • When are we going to get our heads out of our a**’. If they want to be here so bad get a work visa; how hard is that. These people are here ILLEGALLY as in they are BREAKING THE LAW! STOP GIVING THEM A REASON TO STAY if they don’t want to follow the law. I hope they deport him.

  • Gary Bloom

    The facts:

    1.This person document was altered by a DMV official who then reported him
    2. Another DMV official deceived him
    3. DMV discriminated against him more than once
    4. The DMV promised him safety
    5. He wouldn’t have gone to the DMV if he had done anything wrong

    Had it been an American person in another country what our reactions would look like?

    Do I need to say more?

    • An American illegally living and working in another country would be deported or jailed when they went for a license or tried to use the courts to sue the state.

      • Mia Arnold

        I don’t think anybody in other countries would do to the American such a thing.

        • Jan van Eck

          Iran, North Korea, maybe Belarus, possibly Somalia, definitely Syria. Yup. our policies dovetail nicely with some autocratic places on the planet.

          I really don’t picture the Canadians doing that, though. We could learn from that.

        • Jon Corrigan

          Americans have been beheaded in other countries, so what makes you believe they couldn’t be jailed or deported?

  • Scott W Jones

    Forging an official application should have consequences. I am surprised to see that the DMV didn’t have to pay more. That’s hardly justice.
    As a citizen, should I be concern about my applications? Is anybody, for any reason, going to forging mine?

  • Scott W Jones

    Some people here are saying that the end justifies the means. This is very un-American and what the DMV did is so wrong.

  • John Gray

    This community in which he lives appreciates and respects him and his contributions.

    We have great concerns about what the DMV has done to him and it gives us pause about the integrity of the DMV and ICE.

    It’s crystal clear to any citizen with common sense that what the DMV did was clearly wrong.
    It’s an affront and completely outrageous that some individuals have even tried to justify all of these violations.