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Georgia Changes Policies, Eliminates Test For Puerto Ricans Seeking A Driver’s License

Kenneth Caban Gonzalez poses at his lawyers' office in Atlanta on Monday, with the temporary driver's license he got earlier in the day. Caban Gonzalez had sued the Georgia Department of Driver Services in July, alleging that Georgia treated Puerto Ricans differently from other U.S. citizen applicants. In a settlement agreement, the state agreed that Puerto Rican applicants would no longer have to take tests or meet other requirements not imposed on other U.S. citizens.
Kenneth Caban Gonzalez poses at his lawyers' office in Atlanta on Monday, with the temporary driver's license he got earlier in the day. Caban Gonzalez had sued the Georgia Department of Driver Services in July, alleging that Georgia treated Puerto Ricans differently from other U.S. citizen applicants. In a settlement agreement, the state agreed that Puerto Rican applicants would no longer have to take tests or meet other requirements not imposed on other U.S. citizens.
Credit Kate Brumback / Associated Press

Updated at 8:10 a.m. Tuesday

Puerto Ricans will be treated the same as any other U.S. citizen when applying for a driver’s license in Georgia after after state officials settled a lawsuit alleging discrimination against Puerto Ricans.

The lawsuit was filed by Kenneth Caban Gonzalez and attorneys with the Southern Center for Human Rights and LatinoJustice PRLDEF.

Caban Gonzalez was born in Puerto Rico and applied for a driver’s license after moving to South Georgia in 2017.

Staff at the Department of Drivers Services kept his Puerto Rican license, his original birth certificate and his Social Security card. When he returned for them, he was arrested and accused of providing false documents.

Federal officials eventually confirmed his documents were legitimate.

As a result of an investigation by the Georgia Bureau of Investigation, the Department of Driver Services made changes, including more transparency around investigations into suspected fraud.

A manager was fired, and another was demoted. The department also banned the so-called “Puerto Rico Interview Guide,” which asked details about the island, some of which were outdated or simply incorrect.

The state also agreed to pay Caban Gonzalez $40,000 as well as $60,000 for his attorney fees.

The settlement applies to citizens in other U.S. territories, including Guam and the U.S. Virgin Islands.