St-Hilaire, et al. V. Commissioner of the Indiana Bureau of Motor Vehicles

St-Hilaire, et al. v. Commissioner of the Indiana Bureau of Motor Vehicles

On August 23, 2023, the ACLU of Indiana and the National Immigration Law Center (NILC) filed a federal lawsuit in the Southern District of Indiana on behalf of five Haitian community members against the Commissioner of the Indiana Bureau of Motor Vehicles (BMV), who is responsible for enforcing a discriminatory state driver’s license law. The lawsuit asserts that the Commissioner is violating the civil and constitutional rights of certain immigrants based on their country of origin. This case is part of NILC’s broader effort to expand immigrant access to driver’s licenses and state IDs.

In May 2023, Indiana enacted House Enrolled Act 1050 (H.E.A. 1050), which extended driver’s license and state ID eligibility to immigrants granted humanitarian parole—but only for certain Ukrainian parolees. The law excluded parolees from other countries. After H.E.A. 1050 passed, the Indiana Bureau of Motor Vehicles (BMV) began enforcing the law by approving Ukrainian parolees for licenses and IDs, but denying parolees from other countries.

This preferential treatment is wrong and unlawful. U.S. law guarantees all people, regardless of their country of origin or race, equal protection under the law and prohibits states from discriminating against people based on these protected grounds. States also cannot create their own immigration classifications in order to discriminate between immigrant groups.

Latest Update

The plaintiffs have filed motions arguing that they represent a class (or group) of people who are being harmed by H.E.A. 1050 and asking the court to grant preliminary injunctive relief prohibiting the Commissioner from denying licenses and IDs to parolees from countries other than Ukraine.

Judge Tanya Walton Pratt has scheduled a public hearing for November 17, 2023, at 9AM. The hearing will take place at the U.S. Courthouse, 46 E. Ohio Street, Room #344, Indianapolis, IN.

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