DEERFIELD, Wis. - A Cuban refugee who has spent nearly four decades in Wisconsin is now out of a job because of his immigration status.
Jose Santos of Marshall came to the U.S. when he was 21. In 1988 he got his commercial driver's license and has been a truck driver ever since, until last month when the Department of Motor Vehicles reclassified the legal immigrant as a visitor, disqualifying him from a CDL.
“I didn't lose it because of points or because of violation or because of accident,” Santos said. “I didn't lose it for any reason but Wisconsin DMV reclassified me as a visitor. They don't have a right to reclassify me as a visitor they are not immigration.”
In a statement the Wisconsin Department of Transportation explained a rule change in 2015 requires CDL holders to present proof of citizenship. But Santos said when he talked to U.S. Customs and Immigration they said his permit was indefinite.
“They told me it's non expiring, but Wisconsin DMV has now reclassified me as a visitor, a 37-year visit,” Santos said.
So for the first time in 29 years Santos has applied for a new permit, something he's been told will take up to five months.
We also spoke with Santos’s employer BCP Transportation. The president, there Nancy Spelsberg, said she is working with Santos and government officials to get this sorted out. For now Santos is working in the warehouse there so he can keep a steady paycheck.
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