State officials, law enforcement agencies, and Ohio auto insurance providers are unraveling a flaw in state policies regarding car registration. In a startling revelation, thousands undocumented immigrants were reported to have acquired Ohio plates without having to undergo scrutiny from the state’s Bureau of Motor Vehicles (BMV).
Details are not becoming clearer after some officials and insurance experts pointed out the irregularities being encountered. Law enforcement agencies from other states also raised questions to the BMV after seeing Ohio plates on cars owned by and registered to mostly undocumented Latino immigrants. Further investigation revealed a burgeoning cottage industry of “runners” who register cars trough falsified power-of-attorney forms.
Ohio’s State Public Safety Director Henry Guzman was planning to implement a crackdown on the practice last year but delayed plans after meeting with people who represented immigrants. Guzman had earlier called on the state government to impose tougher laws on the “runners”, calling them threats to public safety and security. The regulations were expected to take effect on August 1 of last year.
However, a meeting conducted with representatives from the Latino community and the insurance industry urged Guzman to request a two-week moratorium. Car dealers and insurance providers convinced Guzman delay the implementation of the tougher regulations out of fear for their revenues and bottom lines.
Unknown to Guzman, Latino “runners” were also present during the meeting. Making the most of the delay, enterprising individuals advertised their car registration services in Spanish-language newspapers, promising to register cars belonging to undocumented immigrants for a $100-fee.
The two-week moratorium stretched into more than a year with state officials finally deciding on the crackdown just this August 24. The delay, however, had given “runners” ample time to find customers as far away as New Jersey. Because illegal immigrants do not carry valid drivers’ licenses or have social security numbers, “runners” rely on forging power-of-attorney forms available at Ohio’s BMV.
Insurance industry representatives say that because Ohio laws allow individuals to register cars using only driver’s license or ID numbers, “runners” have been registering vehicles illegally for the past year. This has raised concern that many undocumented immigrants may have been able to get insurance policies from providers without the insurers noticing the irregularities.
Now, providers are calling for a thorough investigation from Ohio’s BMV and state officials regarding some 60,000 cars registered using drivers’ licenses and ID numbers. Previously, car owners were required to register using their Social Security Numbers but security concerns forced the state to allow the use of drivers’ licenses and ID numbers.