Georgia Department of Driver Services Takes First Steps in Securing Justice for Puerto Ricans Unlawfully Denied Drivers Licenses

18th December, 2019

Georgia Department of Driver Services Takes First Steps in Securing Justice for Puerto Ricans Unlawfully Denied Drivers Licenses

 

(Atlanta, GA) – Georgia Department of Driver Services (DDS) has fired one senior manager and demoted another who were complicit in discriminating against Kenneth Caban Gonzalez, represented by LatinoJustice PRLDEF and the Southern Center for Human Rights, who filed litigation in federal court alleging that Mr. Caban Gonzalez was illegally denied the right to exchange his valid Puerto Rico driver’s license for a Georgia driver’s license. The firing and demotion of the senior officials came amid a report issued on December 17th by the Georgia Bureau of Investigation detailing “deficiencies in investigative procedures” that were inconsistent with DDS protocol. 

 

Mr. Caban Gonzalez alleged in his lawsuit that his original identity documents were needlessly seized and that he was charged with providing false documents. His lawsuit was also filed on behalf of other applicants presenting Puerto Rican identity documents who were denied Georgia driver’s license. The Georgia Bureau of Investigations report detailed various steps that are being taken, on top of the employment action, to prevent similar discrimination from occurring again. The report requires greater transparency in the investigative process, greater language access, reiteration that a so-called  “Puerto Rico Interview Guide” should not be used, and much more. 

 

“We appreciate DDS taking these abuses seriously, and are hopeful that discrimination against Puerto Rican applicants will become a thing of the past in Georgia,” said Atteeyah Hollie, Senior Staff Attorney at the Southern Center for Human Rights.

 

“Kenneth arrived in Georgia to work and support his family and a driver’s license is vital for this in Georgia. Two years later and Kenneth is still waiting for the driver’s license he was unlawfully denied. We applaud the recent steps put forth by the Georgia DDS to hold the people accountable for denying Kenneth and those in similar positions their driver’s licenses and for mandating greater transparency in the investigative process. We must do more to make sure that what happened to Kenneth never happens again,” said Jorge Luis Vasquez Jr. Associate Counsel at LatinoJustice PRLDEF.