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Breakthrough for ACLU and Haitian immigrants in case against Indiana BMV 

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A federal judge ordered Indiana to remove a specification in a state law that only allows residents on humanitarian parole from Ukraine to obtain a driver’s license or identification card. The state is still determining if it will appeal the judge’s order. 

The ACLU initiated the case on behalf of a group of Haitian immigrants in Indiana. The group said the law is discriminatory and unconstitutional. On Thursday, Jan. 11, a judge granted a preliminary injunction to remove the restrictions on obtaining an Indiana driver’s license or identification card while the case moves forward. 

“I plan to continue advocating for justice alongside the other plaintiffs because getting a driver’s license should be dependent on following the rules of the road, not on the country where you were born,” lead plaintiff Jefferson Saint-Hilaire said in a written statement released by the ACLU of Indiana. 

The case was initially filed in August 2023. The five Haitian immigrants are represented by members of the American Civil Liberties Union of Indiana (ACLU of Indiana) and the National Immigration Law Center (NILC) 

Four of the five Haitian immigrants are on humanitarian parole, live in rural areas without public transportation and want access to the same opportunities the law grants regardless of their country of origin. The recent ruling is a major step in that direction. 

The Indiana Attorney General’s Office, representing the state, said in a statement that it is reviewing the court’s decision and the potential to appeal.  

“The Indiana General Assembly had good intentions, and we made the best arguments for the law’s constitutionality,” the statement said. 

The lawsuit is still pending class action certification. 

“We will continue to pursue this case to ensure that Ukrainians and non-Ukrainians have an equal opportunity to support their families and communities,” said Gavin M. Rose, senior attorney with the ACLU of Indiana. 

Contact Racial Justice Reporter Garrett Simms at 317-762-7847 

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