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Kentucky Bishops Call for Investigation of Civil Rights Violations by the Kentucky Department of Transportation

Frankfort, KY – (May 30, 2002) Following the passage of House Bill 188 by the Kentucky General Assembly, Kentucky’s Roman Catholic bishops have filed a request for an investigation of Kentucky’s Transportation Cabinet by the federal Department of Transportation Office of Civil Rights in Washington, D.C. The Catholic Conference of Kentucky is alleging that the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet is acting in violation of Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 in its treatment of lawfully present non-citizens.

CCK is charging that the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet is violating the civil rights of lawfully present immigrants. According to Reverend Pat Delahanty, a policy analyst at CCK, "The Department is discriminating against lawfully present immigrants by requiring them to obtain driver licenses in a significantly different manner than citizens." This discrimination currently occurs because of temporary policies put into effect by the Cabinet last winter. When House Bill 188 becomes effective on July 15, 2002, this pattern of discrimination and its disparate impact on legally present non-citizens will continue.

Instead of applying for a license in their home county, non-citizens must visit one of the 12 Transportation Cabinet field offices and present their Immigration and Naturalization Services paperwork to a hearing officer. The officer has up to 30 days to evaluate the authenticity of these documents. If authentic, the officer will issue a document to the applicant who must then visit the circuit court clerk’s office in the home county for issuance of a driver license.

The new law also links the driver license expiration date to the date on the INS documentation. Some immigrants who have a one-year work permit will only be granted a driver license for one-year, at the same fee as others taxpayers pay for a four-year license. "This is clearly discriminatory," said Delahanty. "Why should any Kentucky taxpayer pay four times the amount that others do? They’ve helped pave the same roads as other drivers and shouldn’t be treated differently."

In its letter to Dr. Jeremy Wu, Director of the D.C. office of federal Department of Transportation Office of Civil Rights, CCK claims that the Cabinet is at odds with its own definition of discrimination found in its 2000 Title VI Compliance Report to Kentucky’s State Auditor. The Cabinet provides this definition in its glossary: "To make any distinction between one person or group of persons and others either intentionally, by neglect, or by the effect of actions or lack of actions based on race, color, or national origin." Current policies as well as House Bill 188 run completely counter to this definition.


Catholic Conference of Kentucky

1042 Burlington Lane

Frankfort, Kentucky 40601

502-875-4345 502-875-2841 Fax cckstaffATccky.org

Last modified: October, 2010