Lawsuit claims driver services discriminates against Puerto Ricans in Georgia

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ATLANTA, Ga. (WXIA) – A federal lawsuit has been filed in Atlanta claiming that the state of Georgia is actively discriminating against drivers license applicants from Puerto Rico.

The class-action lawsuit was filed Tuesday. It says that the state’s Department of Driver Services treats applicants from Puerto Rico differently from other U.S. citizens. 

It was filed on behalf of Kenneth Cabán Gonzales, who was born in Puerto Rico and moved to Georgia in 2017. Cabán Gonzalez says he applied for a license with the Georgia Department of Driver Services and they took his identity documents, and kept them–and he has still not been issued a drivers license.

The lawsuit says that documents from Puerto Ricans are retained and flagged for fraud review under department rules. 

Puerto Rican applicants are also required to answer questions about the island, which applicants from the mainland United States are not required to answer. According to the lawsuit, some of those questions include identifying “what a meat filled with plantain fritters” is called, where a specific beach is located, and what the name of a frog is that is native to only Puerto Rico. 

On Wednesday, Puerto Rico’s governor, Ricardo Rosselló, issued a statement asking Georgia Governor Brian Kemp to address the irregularities right away.

According to 11Alive, a spokesperson from Governor Kemp’s office responded with the following statement Wednesday night: 

“Governor Kemp expects state employees to follow the law and treat every constituent with dignity and respect. Our team has spoken with DDS Commissioner Spencer Moore and asked him to conduct a full investigation into these claims. Given that this matter involves pending litigation, we will decline to further discuss any specifics involving this case.”

According to the US Census Bureau, about 40,000 Puerto Ricans born on the island live in Georgia.

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