By Pierce O’Reilly
A New York bank popular with Irish immigrants has been apparently blacklisted by the state’s Department of Motor Vehicles. Desk clerks at the Department of Motor Vehicle center in Yonkers are informing new applicants for driver’s licenses that documentation from the Country Bank is no longer being accepted as proof of permanent residency.
Several Irish immigrants said this week that they have been refused a license from the Yonkers DMV center on Midland Avenue because of an apparent problem with Country Bank documentation. The applicants say that they have all the required points of identification, yet the officials are refusing to accept them.
To acquire a New York State driver’s license, applicants must have six points of identification to prove they are permanent residents in the state. Two of those can be obtained by showing a bank statement and an ATM card. It now appears that Country Bank, which has premises in Manhattan, the Bronx and Westchester, is no longer recognized as a provider of acceptable documentation.
It is not clear what objections the DMV might have to Country Bank documentation and repeated calls to the department were not returned.
Irish immigrants who pressed officials as to whyCountry Bank statements and ATM cards were no longer being accepted were informed by the desk clerks that it had something to do with a change Gov. Pataki made recently, but they would not elaborate.
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"You need to get a new account in another Bank," one immigrant said clerks told him. "Information services can give you more help."
The information official had the same story, according to the applicant.
"We’ve had problems with Country Bank and they’re not accepted any longer," the official is reported to have said.
Country Bank’s president, Bill Burke, said he was outraged to hear such reports.
"I’ve never heard such rubbish or nonsense," he said. "I’m amazed that the DMV officials are saying such things. We’re registered as a state-chartered bank and we operate like all other banks under the rules and regulations that are laid down by the State of New York Banking Authority."
Country Bank is also registered under the Federal Insured Deposit Cooperation.
"We take incidents like these very seriously and I want to give our customers my personal assurance that I’ll personally go down to the DMV centers with them if they continue to refuse our documentation," Burke said.
Undocumented Irish are also complaining this week that Department of Motor Vehicle officials are quizzing them about their visas, something that is in violation of department policy.
An undocumented Irish native said this week that he fled a DMV premises recently when the officials quizzed him on his visa. "I got nervous when she kept asking for my green card," the Dublin native said.
A spokesperson for DMV said that a green card should only be mentioned as a possible proof of identity. "As long as the customer can produce the correct number of acceptable documents, we should process the transactions," the spokesperson said.
Ann Marie Scanlon of the Emerald Isle Immigration Center said that anyone who has been rejected has the right to see a supervisor. "If they feel they have being wrongfully rejected, they can go further," she said.