Representatives Ayanna Pressley and Lori Trahan Lead Call for Governor Baker to Assist TPS and DED Holding Bay Staters

May 10, 2019
Press Release

BOSTON Representatives Ayanna Pressley (MA-07) and Lori Trahan (MA-03) led a call to Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker to address ongoing challenges faced by many Temporary Protected Status (TPS) as well as Deferred Enforced Departure (DED) holders seeking driver’s license renewals. Because of President Trump’s callous decision to attempt to cancel these protections some 400,000 people – as many as 17,424 in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts – have seen their lives upended.

One such example of this disruption relates to driver’s license renewals. Employment Authentication Documents (EADs) are a standard requirement to secure a driver’s license.  However, EADs for the TPS and DED holders from these nations are expired or expiring.  As the result of a court injunction in Ramos v. Nielsen the Department of Homeland Security issued a notice stating that EADs for TPS holders from Sudan, Nicaragua, Haiti, and El Salvador are valid through January 2, 2020, but confusion is still resulting in many TPS and DED holders not being able to renew their license’s with documents that appear expired but are in fact still valid because of the court injunction. 

In a letter sent to the Governor on Friday May 10, 2019 Massachusetts Representatives Ayanna Pressley, Lori Trahan, James McGovern, Seth Moulton, Richard E. Neal, Katherine Clark, Joe Kennedy, and William R. Keating called attention the issue, acknowledged the Governor’s ongoing action to address it, and respectfully offered suggestions for further assistance.

“We are writing to respectfully request your assistance in addressing ongoing challenges faced by many Temporary Protected Status (TPS) as well as Deferred Enforced Departure (DED) holders seeking driver’s license renewals.  This is a national challenge that is a direct consequence of the actions of the White House and U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS).  We understand that your Administration is already taking important steps to remedy the issue.  However, we believe additional measures are required, and we submit two recommendations for your consideration,” the lawmakers wrote.

“As a TPS holder, I thank Rep Trahan and everyone who signed this letter. This is a serious issue for me and my community and I hope Governor Baker will join the effort to find a solution to this problem,” Said Jose Palma, member of the Massachusetts TPS Committee and National TPS Alliance Coordinator.

"We've been very appreciative of the RMV's ongoing work to ensure continued access to driver's license for TPS and DED holders, and their openness to stakeholder input in resolving complex issues arising from the implementation of the new state law," said Eva A. Millona, the executive director of the Massachusetts Immigrant and Refugee Advocacy Coalition. "That said, we do agree that further action is needed, and support the recommendations of the Congressional delegation."

Full text of the letter is below:

 

May 10, 2019

 

The Honorable Charles D. Baker

Governor of Massachusetts

Massachusetts Statehouse

24 Beacon St., Room 280

Boston, MA 02133

 

Dear Governor Baker,

We are writing to respectfully request your assistance in addressing ongoing challenges faced by many Temporary Protected Status (TPS) as well as Deferred Enforced Departure (DED) holders seeking driver’s license renewals.  This is a national challenge that is a direct consequence of the actions of the White House and U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS).  We understand that your Administration is already taking important steps to remedy the issue.  However, we believe additional measures are required, and we submit two recommendations for your consideration.

As you know, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security – at the direction of President Trump – has attempted to cancel TPS for approximately 400,000 people from El Salvador, Haiti, Honduras, Nepal, Nicaragua, and Sudan.  It is estimated that 17,424 individuals with TPS status reside in the Commonwealth.  The Administration’s decision to deny extension is unnecessary and cruel. It has upended lives and inspired fear of detention and deportation. For many TPS and DED holders, the lack of a valid driver’s license is a major source of concern.

Employment Authentication Documents (EADs) are a standard requirement to secure a driver’s license.  However, EADs for the TPS and DED holders from these nations are expired or expiring.  Nevertheless, on March 1, 2019, DHS issued a Federal Register notice – 1615-ZB78 – that automatically renews EADs for TPS holders from Sudan, Nicaragua, Haiti, and El Salvador through January 2, 2020.  This extension was the result of a court injunction in Ramos v. Nielsen.  Moreover, per Bhattarai v. Nielsen, TPS termination for Nepal and Honduras is also suspended. Recently, the Administration published a Federal Register notice – 9111–97–P – delaying the expiration of (DED) for Liberians through March 30, 2020. 

We understand that the Registry of Motor Vehicles (RMV) has been helpfully engaged with TPS holders to renew driver’s licenses, including training employees to appropriately recognize that expired EADs, in fact, remain valid.  However, based upon constituent feedback, it is clear additional steps are necessary.  To that end, we offer two recommendations, developed in consultation with TPS advocacy organizations, for your consideration:

  • First, the RMV should immediately post on the front page of its website a simple, one-page, document – in all relevant languages – clearly stating that EADs are valid for all affected TPS and DED holders.  This form would serve as official confirmation – for use by RMV employees and TPS and DED holders – of the validity of apparently expired EADs.  Further, its availability online and in a printable format will allow TPS and DED holders and advocacy groups to circulate the document.
  • Second, the RMV should permit driver’s license extensions for TPS and DED holders for at least one year.  It is our understanding that current extensions are only offered until January 2, 2020.  This limitation is a source of distress and confusion and, ultimately, will be less efficient for Massachusetts residents and RMV employees alike. 

We are all strong supporters of the American Dream and Promise Act, which would offer a permanent and fair fix for these families.  The Speaker and the Majority Leader of the House have made clear that this bill is a high priority for them as well.  Your assistance in reducing the burden on TPS and DED holders by taking these steps while we work to secure the bill’s enactment would be greatly appreciated.

Thank you for your attention to our request.

Sincerely,

 

 

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