The new rule requiring a different format for driver licenses of non-citizens in Texas, and requiring the showing of valid visas in order to receive the licenses, has been blocked by a State District Judge. Here are excerpts from a story in the Dallas Morning News:
A judge blocked the Texas Department of Public Safety on Thursday from continuing to enforce new rules that prevent some legal immigrants from obtaining driver’s licenses and identification cards.
State District Judge Orlinda L. Naranjo in Austin issued a temporary injunction and found DPS acted outside its scope of authority when it adopted the policy last year.
“This case is not about illegal immigrants obtaining driver licenses, it is about legal residents who have been denied or have been threatened a denial of a driver license,” Naranjo wrote.
The rules required identification card and driver’s license applicants who weren’t U.S. citizens to have visas that were issued for at least a one year stay and were still valid for at least six months from the date they were presented to DPS.
While DPS has the authority to verify an applicant’s eligibility, competency and identity — including name, place of birth and date of birth — the length of time a visa is valid has no correlation to those, Naranjo wrote. The state Legislature has outlined who cannot receive a driver’s license, but people with less than six months left on their visa are not among the ineligible categories, the judge wrote in her order.
DPS also changed the way the cards look for people who aren’t U.S. citizens or permanent residents but still have permission to live in the country. The licenses are marked with the words “Temporary Visitor,” include the date permission to live in the U.S. expires and the picture and information are placed vertically, like that of a person under age 21. If permission to live in the U.S. is for an indefinite time period, the status date on the license would be for one year under the DPS rule.
The judge said DPS didn’t appear to have adopted that policy through proper notice and comment required in rulemaking.
Gov. Rick Perry has defended the new rules as necessary to ensure public safety and national security.