Not a Lexis+ subscriber? Try it out for free.

Immigration Law

You Might Need an Immigration Lawyer to Get a Driver License in Alaska

Jeff Landfield, Alaska Land Mine, Feb. 21, 2022

"Trey Capers is a United States citizen who moved to Juneau in 1980 after spending two years in the Air Force. He was 19 at the time. He drove a cab for more than twenty years, starting at a time when Alaska was flush with oil money. In 2001, a friend asked him if he was interested in driving a tour bus for Juneau Tours. Trey, who loves to drive, took him up on the offer and obtained his first Alaska commercial drivers license (CDL).

Trey drove a tour bus during the summer from 2001 to 2019. In 2008, he started driving a school bus during the winter months, and then started working as a Capital Transit bus driver for the City and Borough of Juneau (CBJ) in 2020. He had pursued the Capital Transit bus job for years because it offered good pay and benefits, and was thrilled to have finally landed the job.

Last week, Trey went to the Division of Motor Vehicles (DMV) in Juneau to renew his CDL, just like he has done every five years since 2001. But he was told by DMV officials he could not renew it unless he provided his original naturalization document.

Trey, who was born in Spain in 1960, was adopted as a child by an American military couple. He was naturalized and became an American citizen, by order of a federal court in Florida, at the age of 2. He has been a United States citizen since 1962. He has a duplicate of his original naturalization document, but DMV says they require an original for a CDL renewal. The original was lost many decades ago by Trey’s parents, who are now deceased. ... 

Margaret Stock, a well-known immigration attorney in Anchorage, is representing Capers. When asked about Trey’s situation, Stock told the Landmine, “Trey is not the only Alaskan who is having trouble with the DMV right now. The Alaska DMV has been making it very difficult for many Alaskans who were born in foreign countries to get drivers’ licenses. DMV blames the Federal REAL ID law, but it’s really the Alaska laws and DMV’s interpretation of these laws that are to blame.” Stock added she now has a “booming business” helping Alaskans get their drivers’ licenses, thanks to the state laws interpreting REAL ID. “Before 9/11, people didn’t need an immigration lawyer to get a driver’s license in Alaska. Now they do,” says Stock."