Tennessee DMV Tells 77-Year-Old Navy Vet He's Not American And Immediately Cancels His Drivers License

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A 77-year-old Navy veteran is having more than the usual annoying problems at the DMV; instead of asking for a million form of paper work or waiting in long lines, one man is being told he’s not actually eligible for a driver’s license because he’s not a U.S. citizen.

That’s news to David O’Connor, who served his country in the Navy and has been driving for over 60 years as both a regular class C driver and as a commercial driver. He’s also voted in every election since he was 18. None of that seemed to matter to the Tennessee DMV.

O’Connor recently went in to get his Real I.D. The Real I.D. is a national requirement starting next year that will be needed for things like domestic air travel. To get one, you must provide documents like proof of residency and most importantly, your birth certificate. O’Connor did this. The problem came when he presented his Canadian birth certificate, Nashville’s News 5 reports:


They told me I shouldn’t have had the license in the first place ‘cause I couldn’t prove that I was a citizen,” O’Connor explained. “I’ve been here for 77 years,” O’Connor said, adding, “None of this (situation) makes any sense to me.” And no one, he said, has ever questioned whether he’s really an American.

O’Connor was born in Canada to parents who were both U.S. citizens. They came back to the U.S. shortly after he was born.According to section 301(c) of the Immigration and Nationality Act “A person born abroad in wedlock to two U.S. citizen parents acquires U.S. citizenship at birth if at least one of the parents had a residence in the United States or one of its outlying possessions prior to the person’s birth.”

This means O’Connor is a citizen. He’s voted, paid taxes and has a social security number. None of this mattered to the Tennessee DMV. Not only did they not let him get a Real I.D., they also canceled his current drivers license:

Employees at the Driver Service Center in Athens, Tennessee, where O’Connor lives refused to give him a Real ID. And then things went from bad to worse. They refused to renew his license, again questioning his citizenship and his birth certificate.

“They said, ‘No, that’s no good. We shouldn’t have given you the license in the first place,’” O’Connor recalled.

He continued, “And they just canceled my license right then and there.

They then told him if he wanted his license back, he’d have to file papers to become a citizen—a process which takes years.

“I’ll probably be dead before that ever goes through,” he toldNews 5.

With O’Connor not being able to drive, News 5 took his situation to the Commissioner of the Tennessee Department of Safety and Homeland Security, a man named Jeff Long. News 5 says Long was “sympathetic” to O’Connor’s situation and promised to help by looking into it. Except that was an empty promise as News 5 and O’Connor say they haven’t heard a word from Long.

The DMV wasn’t sympathetic either. In a statement to News 5, the department cited a Tennessee law passed in 2018 that took away the right of non-citizens to have a driver’s license as the reason they took O’Connor’s, still ignoring the fact that he is a citizen. Now, O’Connor can do nothing but wait and hope the situation gets resolved.

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