A New Lawsuit Is Accusing Georgia of Discriminating Against Puerto Ricans

One of the requirements that come with moving to a new state within the U

Photo: Unsplash/@gatolulu

Photo: Unsplash/@gatolulu

One of the requirements that come with moving to a new state within the U.S. is for people to get a new driver’s license. Kenneth Cabán intended to do just that when he moved to the state of Georgia. Cabán — a U.S. citizen born in Puerto Rico — filed a driver’s license transfer when he moved to Atlanta, but it wasn’t as simple as he thought. He was given a quiz to verify that he was in fact from Puerto Rico to prove what exactly? The state of Georgia is questioning the validity of his citizenship by asking the most insane questions that other U.S. citizens would never get asked. Because of this humiliating action, Cabán is suing the Georgia Department of Driver’s Services’ (DDS) unlawful and discriminatory treatment of American citizens from Puerto Rico.

“Puerto Ricans who are trying to start a new life in Georgia deserve access to the same benefits that are afforded to other citizens of the United States. We believe that across Georgia there are many Puerto Ricans who face the same kind of intimidation that Kenneth experienced, and we cannot allow for this kind of overt discrimination to take place,” Jorge Vasquez, Associate Counsel at LatinoJustice PRLDEF, said in a press release. The LatinoJustice PRLDEF and the Southern Center for Human Rights (SCHR) have filed a class action lawsuit on his behalf.

Some of the questions Cabán was forced to answer to prove he’s from Puerto Rico involved knowing “the name of a frog indigenous to Puerto Rico or what meat filled with plantain fritter is called.” They also asked tricked questions such as naming an “inland city’s non-existent beach.”

The lawsuit states that these quizzes have been distributed to Puerto Ricans for at least the past two years. According to NBC News, Georgia Department of Driver’s Services says they have not done anything illegal and are complying with what they are supposed to do.

DDS has not been served with the complaint,” Susan Sports, public information officer at the Georgia Department of Driver’s Services, told NBC News in a statement. “All issuances, including those for applicants from Puerto Rico, are handled in accordance with Georgia Statute and Federal Real ID requirements.”

Puerto Rican Americans are not second-rate citizens and should be treated with the respect afforded every American.  The so-called quiz, applied to Puerto Rican drivers, bears a strikingly disturbing resemblance to the tests applied by segregationists to block voter registration of people of color,” Gerry Weber, Senior Attorney at SCHR, said in a statement. It’s been 600 days since Cabán filed for a new driver’s license and he has yet to receive it.

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