Republicans’ special session wins include proof of citizenship for driver’s licenses
As the dust settles around the State Capitol, a bill requiring proof of U.S. citizenship to get a Texas driver’s license has emerged as another conservative win from the last 30 days in Austin.
While Republican lawmakers hurries to blame one another for the failure of sanctuary cities legislation, one of Gov. Rick Perry’s major priorities for the special session, the Austin American-Statesman reported on the driver’s license requirements, another measure targeting illegal immigration that flew under the radar.
As reporter Tim Eaton wrote:
A provision in the approved Senate Bill 1, the special session’s must-pass school finance bill, will require people to prove U.S. citizenship or legal residence before they can renew or get a Texas driver’s license.
Though sanctuary cities legislation would have directly affected only people who have contact with police, the driver’s license provision will touch most Texas adults.
State Rep. Eddie Rodriguez, D-Austin, told the Statesman this measure is “more comprehensive and more invasive than sanctuary cities ever was.”
State Sen. Tommy Williams, R-The Woodlands, who also sponsored the upper chamber’s sanctuary cities bill, first introduced the measure as a bill, but it failed in both the regular and the special session to find traction in the House. The language was adopted as an amendment to the budget bill approved in the session’s penultimate day.
ACLU of Texas Executive Director Terri Burke called the move a “dirty trick on the people of Texas,” saying the ultimate result will be more unlicensed and uninsured drivers on the road. “Many Texans will be – at the very least – wildly inconvenienced by the 11th hour provisions that may mean you need a passport or birth certificate to renew your driver’s license. These new rules will cause lines to grow longer and individuals will be wrongly denied driver’s licenses,” Burke said in a statement Thursday.
Texas Department of Public Safety spokesperson Tela Mange told the Houston Press that the new law simply, “codifies current DPS rules,” though author Richard Connelly points out a birth certificate is just one of a few options the state offers for identification.
The Dallas Observer connected the bill to the voter ID measure that also passed last session. “Those laws are designed to make it harder for illegal immigrants (and dead people!) to fraudulently vote in our elections — because, you know, illegal immigrants just love showing up at rooms full of really official paper work,” Joe Tone writes. “In fact, the bill will just put more unlicensed and uninsured drivers on the road, make the [DPS waiting] room above even more crowded.”
Read more on the end of the special session:
Texas Tribune: Sine Die Report: What Survived, What Died
Austin American-Statesman: In Texas Legislature, winners, losers abound after 170 days of lawmaking
Texas Observer: Perry Breaks with Big Business, Tx Republican Party and His Former Self
Austin American-Statesman: Texas senators to look into water utility rate increases
Austin American-Statesman: Texas Parks and Wildlife Dept. readies for layoffs