Government agencies again discriminate against TPS holders; permit renewals denied

A group of Hondurans who are under the Temporary Protected Status (TPS) program in Indiana contacted me a few days ago to let me know that they are being denied renewal of their driver's licenses because their documents show an expiration date of January 5, 2012. This is the date on which the previous TPS extension for Hondurans and Nicaraguans expires.

But in November 2011, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security authorized the extension of TPS for Hondurans and Nicaraguans for another 18 months - from January 5, 2012 to July 5, 2013, automatically extending the validity of their documents until July 5, 2012 while their re-registration applications are processed. This means that even if employment authorization documents or driver's licenses indicate an expiration date of January 5, 2012, continue to be valid by law until July 5, 2012.

Mr. Wilder Aparicio and several of his family members in Indiana called me because they found out that I had successfully helped other people who had gone through the same thing in 2010 and wanted to know what they could do to solve their problem in Indiana. Now I will be helping them too.

Wilder is desperate because he works as a truck driver. Without a valid license, he has been unable to work for more than three weeks and has lost thousands of dollars in income. When he went to the Indiana Bureau of Motor Vehicles (BMV) to renew his commercial driver's license, he was denied, even though he brought the official notice from the Department of Homeland Security stating that they had automatically extended his work permit for six months until July 5, 2012. According to Wilder, he was told it looked fake.

I explained that the federal government is supposed to have notified all state government agencies of the TPS extension and given instructions on how to accept the extended documents and how to process the issuance of new licenses and work permits. However, there are people who evidently have not been properly trained and erroneously refuse to accept the documents of people with extended TPS.

If something similar is happening to you, here's what to do:

Print out the official TPS extension notice for Hondurans and take it to the office where you need to renew a permit. For Hondurans you can find it by clicking here.

2. Bring your current TPS work permit and evidence that you have already re-registered for TPS.

3. Bring your TPS extension approval letter if your case has been approved.

If they still refuse to renew a permit, do the following:

1. Remain calm at all times.

2. Ask to speak to a supervisor to show them the documentation you have brought and explain that by law they must accept your documents.

If the supervisor refuses to help you:

1. Write down the name of the person who refused to complete your transaction.

2. Write down the address of the office where they refused to help you.

3. Call the Office of Special Counsel for Unfair Employment Practices Relating to Immigrant Status The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) to file a complaint. They will help you resolve the problem. Call the following number: 1-800-255-7688.

During the previous TPS re-registration period, DOJ had to intervene to help people across the country who had been denied permit renewals and other benefits and who had been subjected to acts of discrimination by government agencies. If you click here you will be able to see a list of the type of cases they helped solve. At this time, the DOJ only offers the list in English.

The list of cases in which the DOJ intervened is just a small sample. There are thousands of people who do not know that the DOJ can help them. If they don't know there is a number to call for help, it means they never reported their cases.

So it was with the group of Hondurans in Indiana. That's why they called me to help them. But it's important for people to know that they do have resources with the federal government.

What is happening to Hondurans in Indiana may be affecting other TPS holders in other parts of the country, and it is a warning that it will likely come back to affect Salvadorans around the country if they do not get their new work permit in time.

Therefore, it is very important that Salvadorans re-register as soon as possible. Do not wait until the last minute, as they could face unnecessary complications later.