Monday, April 15, 2024

Puerto Rican Birth Certificates Turned Down in Ohio

The Ohio Bureau of Motor Vehicles is turning away Puerto Ricans applying for state-issued identification cards on the grounds that their birth certificates are considered invalid.

Elizabeth Torres, whose 19-year-old son was denied an identification card by the BMV, says Puerto Ricans are not being given their rights as US citizens.

“We’re not illegal aliens, we are citizens of this country,” Torres said. “We have everything, all the documents and all that, but we are not treated as such.”

The policy at the Ohio BMV is based on a law in Puerto Rico that will invalidate all older birth certificates on Sept. 30.  Up to 5 million people on the island and 1.4 million in the U.S. are being required to apply for new birth certificates with security features.  The move follows raids against a criminal ring that stole thousands of birth certificates and other identifying documents from several schools in Puerto Rico.

“They are not placing credibility in their certificates,” Lindsay Komlanc, Ohio BMV spokeswoman, said. “For an agency that uses a birth certificate as one of the primary documents to be able to verify identity, that’s something we have to look very hard at.”

The Ohio BMV has been denying Puerto Ricans with the older certificates identification cards since April even though they won’t become invalid until a month from now.  The reaction to concerns of possible fraud has led some to believe racial discrimination may be taking place.

“Puerto Rico is being victimized because of the fact you’ve got so much attention on Latino immigrants in the United States,” Brent Wilkes, executive director of LULAC, said. “Puerto Ricans are not immigrants, but they’re still Latinos.”

Any state that has already decided the existing certificates are invalid is acting out of bias says Wilkes.  On Wednesday, representatives from LULAC met with Thomas Stickrath, director of the Ohio Department of Public Safety, which oversees the BMV.  Komlanc says the director explained his agency’s position to the group and “appreciated the opportunity for dialogue.”

“The meeting opened channels of communication,” Marilyn Zayas-Davis, Ohio legal adviser for LULAC, said.

Torres’ son, Alfredo Pagan, doesn’t drive but needed an Ohio ID card to take his high school equivalency test says his mother.

“My son wants to get a job and help me with the house expenses and all that,” Torres, who left Puerto Rico 12 years ago, said.

The Boston Globe


  1. This is wrong! Boricuas are Americans….Period. That’s the U.S law. Puerto Ricans are automatically US Citizens. Have been for a long time. Ohio Law Makers know better but they are/were being huge Racists!

  2. Joe Irelan says

    That is so wrong, we are american to.