More than 250 unauthorized immigrants in Maryland could lose their commercial driver’s licenses after an audit of the state Department of Motor Vehicles found they had issued the permits in error. (Ricky Carioti/The Washington Post)

The Maryland Motor Vehicle Administration issued more than 250 notices this month to holders of commercial driver’s licenses across the state warning them that their licenses would be canceled unless they proved their citizenship or permanent residency within 30 days.

The bulk of those letters went to Maryland residents who have work permits through a federal “Temporary Protected Status” program, which shields immigrants of certain countries from deportation and gives them permission to work in the United States.

The notices were triggered by an internal audit of the Motor Vehicle Administration that found the agency had erred in giving TPS permit holders — from El Salvador, Honduras and Nicaragua — permission to drive commercial ­vehicles.

The drivers had completed the training, exams and other requirements for the license. But their temporary protected status does not amount to permanent residency and therefore does not meet the federal requirements for receiving the type of commercial driver’s licenses they had been awarded.

MVA spokesman Buel Young said the agency is seeking clarification from the federal government as to what it did wrong and whether there is a different commercial license that other states have used that could be issued to the immigrants in question.

In the meantime, dozens of drivers such as Abraham Ventura are scrambling to find a solution. Ventura, 39, of New Carrollton, said his family of five depends on the income he makes driving a dump truck that carries dirt from construction sites in the region. He came to the United States from ­El Salvador in 1995 and said that he does not have the documents to keep his license.

He said that he is making monthly payments for the $30,000 he owes on his recently purchased truck, and he blamed the state of Maryland for making a mistake in saying that he is not entitled to a commercial license.

“How do I explain this to my children and my debtors when it was their error?” he asked. “I have no idea what I’m going to do.”

Young said that at the same time the agency was conducting an audit of nearly 188,000 commercial driver’s licenses and learner’s permits, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration told officials about a commercial-license holder who did not have the proper documentation.

After the audit, the MVA sent 263 letters to license holders notifying them that they were out of compliance with federal law.

“During the processing of your CDL . . . we did not receive the required U.S. citizenship or lawful permanent residence documents,” the letter said.

Three of entrepreneur Glenda Hernandez’s drivers received the letter, which means they can’t drive. It will cost her nearly two-year-old company, G&C Trucking in Hyattsville, tens of thousands of dollars, she said, adding: “I’ll go bankrupt.”

There are different classes of commercial licenses for school bus, truck and heavy-vehicle drivers that are issued for five years, Young said. Nearly all of the letter recipients are immigrants who used employment authorization documents from the Department of Homeland Security to apply, pay for and obtain their licenses.

The secretary of Homeland Security can designate immigrants from specific countries as ­TPS-eligible if there is an ongoing armed conflict, an environmental disaster or another extraordinary condition, such as violence.

The immigrants underwent criminal background checks, but the TPS program does not confer permanent legal status.

In 2013, Maryland lawmakers passed a bill allowing immigrants in the country illegally to obtain a second-tier driver’s license and identification card if they can prove they paid taxes and have resided continuously in the state for two years. The law extended to regular Class C licenses, but not to commercial licenses, which are subject to federal law.

State Del. Carlo Sanchez (D-Prince George’s) was at the Democratic National Convention last week when he heard from constituents about the letters. He estimated that about 50 people in Prince George’s have been affected, and he said he is working with the immigrant advocacy organization CASA to devise a relief plan.

But Sanchez said there are no easy or quick solutions.

“It’s a major concern,” he said. “Basically, someone whose only trade is to drive trucks now has no legal way to do their job. We will have families with no income coming in.”

George Escobar, senior director of human services at CASA, said other states and federal law have language allowing immigrants with work permits to obtain a special type of commercial driver’s license called a non-domiciliary license for nonlegal residents.

“We believe Maryland has the ability to issue these and are trying to work with them on dealing with this issue,” he said in an email.

Escobar led a meeting Friday of about 30 truckers at CASA’s Langley Park headquarters to discuss how they can try to persuade state regulators and solicit help from lawmakers to provide the alternative license before their licenses are recalled Aug. 15. The mostly male group is planning to write letters and possibly protest with their trucks.

“This will have a ripple effect on the state economy,” Ivan Betancur of Frederick said in Spanish. “With 263 fewer trucks on the road, it will impact gas stations, insurers and construction companies. We are talking about hundreds of thousands of dollars lost.”

Ventura, whose next truck payment is due Aug. 1, said he makes up to $2,000 a week hauling dirt and debris. He said he thinks that his only choice is to move to a state that allows TPS-eligible immigrants to obtain commercial driver’s licenses.

“I don’t think I can find another job that pays the same in such a short amount of time here,” said Ventura, who has had his license for three years. “That’s why we work so hard to get the license in the first place. It’s lucrative.”