US Navy Veteran’s Citizenship Challenged by Tennessee Authorities

David O’Connor said it feels like America “doesn’t want him” anymore after Tennessee authorities are challenging his citizenship.

O’Connor, who is 77 years old, is a veteran of the U.S. Navy and has lived in the country for more than 70 years. Yet, Tennessee’s DMV recently revoked his driver’s license, claiming that he wasn’t able to prove he was a citizen of the U.S.

For the past 61 years, O’Connor has been a professional truck operator. Local news outlet NewsChannel5 reported that he has held driver’s licenses in multiple states, including Vermont, New Hampshire and New York.

When he moved to Tennessee eight years ago, he obtained a driver’s license there, too. But last month, his license was canceled by the state. As he said:

“They told me I shouldn’t have had the license in the first place because I couldn’t prove that I was a citizen.”

O’Connor’s parents both are U.S. citizens. When he was born, though, they lived briefly in Canada, which resulted in him having a Canadian birth certificate.

He took that certificate with him to the McMinn County Driver Service Center in Tennessee to get a “Real ID” while he renewed his license, but the agency rejected it. 

As he explained:

“They said, ‘No, that’s no good. We shouldn’t have given you the license in the first place.’ They just canceled my license right then and there.”

He’s being forced to go to great lengths to prove that he’s a citizen of the country now.

When he was 17 years old, O’Connor enlisted in the Navy, serving as a sonar technician for four years. In addition to both of his parents being U.S. citizens, he’s listed as an American citizen on his military discharge forms.

He also has a Social Security card, votes in every election and receives retirement benefits.

But, since Tennessee hasn’t approved his driver’s license application, he’s not allowed to drive, fly on a plane and won’t be able to vote in the presidential election this November.

He told the local media outlet:

“It’s like your country doesn’t want you. I’ve tried to do things the right way all my life, and now it’s like I’m nothing.”

Earlier this year, O’Connor was supposed to fly to Vermont to visit family, but because he didn’t have a driver’s license, he wasn’t able to fly. Instead, his son had to drive him on the very long trip to Vermont.

Jean O’Connor, who is his wife, said she’s been “flabbergasted and outraged” by this whole situation. As she said:

“It just blows my mind. I am flabbergasted. I am outraged that, at 77 years old, he is now considered a non-citizen by the country that he has lived in his whole life.”

Many media outlets have reached out to the DMV in Tennessee to comment on the story, but officials with the agency have as of yet not responded to those requests.