February 10, 2017 | Press Release

Nadeau Seeks Clarification on DMV Handling of Immigrant Personal Information - Office of Councilmember Brianne K. Nadeau

A law passed in 2013 allows D.C. residents without a Social Security number to obtain a limited purpose driver license, and includes protections to keep information relating to legal presence safe. Still, Nadeau seeks clarification on DMV policies if federal authorities were to try to use other portions of the D.C. code for potential backdoor immigration requests.

"While great care was taken to establish protections when the existing law was drafted, I want to ensure that the DMV has a clear, standard operating procedure to protect the personal information of our immigrants," said Ward 1 Councilmember Brianne K. Nadeau.

The original letter is available online. The full text is below:

February 1, 2017

Director Lucinda M. Babers

Department of Motor Vehicles

P.O. Box 90120

Washington, DC

Dear Director Babers:

I have made a commitment to District residents to do everything I can to protect them from persecution and separation under the president’s alarming new immigration policies. With that goal in mind, I am writing to seek clarification on how the Department of Motor Vehicles administers certain portions of the District of Columbia Driver’s Safety Amendment Act of 2013 relating to sharing personal information. [1] Given the likely changes in immigration enforcement with the new presidential administration, I want to ensure that residents’ information relating to their legal presence is fully secure. Specifically, I am concerned about the limited purpose drivers’ license and how the Department might reconcile its ability to release personal information to federal government agencies with its responsibility to protect information relating to legal presence.

Although the Act requires the Department to protect information relating to legal presence, I want to confirm with you that information requests permitted by other portions of the District of Columbia Code will not serve as a backdoor for immigration-related requests. In general, the Department may not share personal information.[2] An exception exists for “government agenc[ies] . . . in carrying out [their] core functions”, but the Department may not provide information relating to legal presence absent a warrant or subpoena.[3]

The Department website as well as the committee report for the Act acknowledge the danger of limited purpose drivers’ licenses being used as an effective signal of immigration status. At the time that the Act authorized limited purpose drivers’ licenses, the Council of the District of Columbia noted the concern that the new limited purposes drivers’ licenses could be used as a conduit for immigration enforcement.[4] Consistent with this concern, the Council included certain specific immigration-related protections in the Act, and the Department has acknowledged these protections on its website.[5]

With these provisions in mind, I want to clarify with you how the Department would respond to information requests that on their face appear neutral but that are in fact intended for immigration enforcement. Accordingly, I respectfully request answers to the following questions by no later than February 22, 2017.

1. Has the Department ever received bulk information requests, e.g., a list of all license holders under a particular class of licenses?

2. What is the typical format of information requests by federal government agencies for personal information? And do such requests include specific reasoning for the request?

3. Were the Department to receive a blanket request for a list of limited purpose driver’s licenses, how would the Department handle that request?



Brianne K. Nadeau

Councilmember, Ward 1 

Cc: Councilmember Mary M. Chair, chairperson, Committee on Transportation and the Environment

About Ward 1 Councilmember Brianne K. Nadeau

In her many years of service to the community, Councilmember Brianne K. Nadeau (D-Ward 1) has brought perspectives from a career that spans the non-profit, public and private sectors. She is committed to strengthening our schools, increasing affordable housing and promoting government transparency and the highest ethical standards. She serves as the Chair of the Council’s Human Services Committee. Follow her on Twitter @brianneknadeau or at Facebook.com/brianneknadeau.

[1] District of Columbia Driver’s Safety Amendment Act of 2013, D.C. Law 20-62 (2013).

[2] D.C. Code § 50-1401.01b(b)

[3] Id. § 50-1401.01b(c)(2), (d)(5)

[4] Council of the District of Columbia, Committee on Transportation and the Environment Report on B20-275, District of Columbia Driver’s Safety Amendment Act of 2013, at 5-6 (2013)

[5] . D.C. Code §§ 50-1401.01b(d)(5), 1401.05(g); see Limited Purpose Credential FAQs, DEP’T OF MOTOR VEHICLES (last visited Jan. 31, 2017), https://dmv.dc.gov/node/1120167.