Newly Enforced Trucking Law Targeting Immigrants

According to a report in the Houston Chronicle, many immigrant truck drivers are facing the possibility of losing their commercial driver licenses (CDLs) due to a provision in a law that was enacted three years ago, but rarely followed until now.

Under Texas statutes, a person applying for a non-resident commercial driver’s license must present three items – a passport, a Temporary Worker visa and an I-94 form. While the law was passed in 2007, the documentation requirement was not enforced.

The Chronicle report cites a Department of Public Safety (DPS) estimate that nearly 1,800 non-resident CDLs were issued in error since the change in the law went into effect in September of 2007. Those who were incorrectly issued a license have 90 days to provide DPS with all necessary documentation. If the driver fails to do so, the license will be cancelled.

The problem for many immigrants who are issued temporary worker status, the Chronicle notes, is that the government only provides documentation that the person is authorized to work in the U.S., not the specific papers required under the statute. But according to a spokesperson for the DPS, because the requirement is a law enacted by the legislature and not a rule under the DPS, the agency must enforce the requirement.

The I-94 form, in particular, is difficult for many immigrants to obtain. The U.S. Customs and Border Patrol issues an I-94 form when a nonimmigrant visitor with a visa enters the U.S., as well as when that person leaves the country. Specific information including the visitor’s name, country of citizenship, date of birth, passport number and other information regarding how and when the person entered the country is required on the I-94.

One concern with DPS enforcing the documentation requirement is that many experienced truckers will be pulled off the road, forcing carriers to hire new drivers who may not have the road hours behind the wheel.

In 2009, there were over 3,100 fatalities involving large trucks according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. The driver of the truck, however, was the victim in only 14 percent of those trucking accidents according to Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration statistics.

For those who have been injured in an accident involving a semi-truck or 18-wheeler, it is important to discuss your case with an experienced personal injury attorney.