News10NBC Investigates: He thought he was American until he tried to upgrade his license

July 02, 2019 07:21 PM

HILTON, N.Y. (WHEC)- "I don't belong here?" asked Ron Davis at his kitchen table in Hilton. 

Last summer, Davis was denied an enhanced driver's license by the state DMV because of federal rules that don't accept his identification. 


Davis, and everyone in the United States without a passport, is going to need an enhanced license, or federal Real ID, to get on an airplane and fly in the United States when new Homeland Security rules kick in in 2020.

Davis' situation is unique, but serves as a reminder to check your documentation. 

Until recently Davis he thought he was all-American. 

He contacted me two weeks ago after New York passed a law saying people without official documents can get a basic driver's license.

Davis says when he tried to get an enhanced license with five forms of ID, he was told no. 

"I showed them this here," Davis said as displayed every document he has on his kitchen table.

When you listen to his answers about his life, he seems to check all the boxes. 

Chief Investigative Reporter Berkeley Brean: "You went to school here."

Ron Davis: "Yes."

Brean: "You worked at Kodak."

Davis: "Yes."

Brean: "You're registered to vote and voted."

Davis: "Yes."

Brean: "And now they're telling you no."

Davis: "Yeah. My citizenship was never brought into any kind of question."

"Well I was upset because [of] the look on Ron's face," his wife Margie said. "He looked lost."

Here's the issue:

Ron is Native American. He was born on the Six Nations Reserve in Ontario, Canada. That's about two and a half hours from Rochester. Davis says his parents brought him here when he was two. He first applied for his enhanced license when his regular license expired last summer. 

Davis says when he went to the DMV office in Greece, he took his Six Nations blood letter, his birth certificate from Ontario, his New York State driver's license, his band (or Indian) card and his social security card from the United States.

And none of that was acceptable proof to get the upgrade.

So I started digging and asking questions. I contacted the Monroe County Clerk's Office. I contacted the state DMV. After a week of investigating, I found out that federal Homeland Security rules have a list of seven documents you can use to get an enhanced license. 

The seven documents are: 
•           U.S. passport or passport card
•           Certificate of Naturalization or Citizenship
•           U.S. birth certificate
•           U.S. consular report of birth abroad
•           Foreign passport
•           Permanent resident card
•           Employment Authorization Document accompanied by documentation approved by DHS that specifically states valid U.S. lawful status

Tribal documents -- like the ones Davis believes gives him dual citizenship -- are not on the list. Davis says in order to get a Canadian passport he would have to live in the Canada for at least six months. He hasn't lived there since he was two. 

Since it's a federal issue, I went to his Congressman, Joe Morelle and he's getting the run around. 

Rep. Joe Morelle, (D) 25th Congressional District: "Well we were contacted on Friday from his wife, Mrs. Davis, talked to us. What we've done so far is we've contacted the Bureau of Indian Affairs in the Interior Department. We had a conversation with them. They directed us to the State Department. So we've been in conversation with them. And now the Department of Homeland Security."

Morelle says he's trying to gather the facts and figure out what he can do. 

Rep. Morelle: "Hopefully we'll be able to work it out. I'm certainly going to work very hard and my staff is hard at work to at least get the fact pattern first and then figure out what our options are."

Here are some things you should know about the new security rules about flying in the United States next year. 

You need an federal Real ID to fly domestically by October 1, 2020. 

If you already have an enhanced driver's license or passport, you already have the proper ID to get on an airplane after October 1, 2020.  

To get an enhanced license or Real ID, you must apply in person at a DMV location. A Real ID is the same cost as a regular drivers license. The enhanced license will cost you an additional $30. 

Click here for more information on the documents you'll need to fly and the acceptable proof you'll need.  


Berkeley Brean

Copyright 2019 - WHEC-TV, LLC A Hubbard Broadcasting Company


We no longer have Facebook comments on this site. Please visit our Facebook Page to join the conversation.