Legal status required for IDs, licenses

October 8, 2008 6:52:52 PM PDT
People who aren't U.S. citizens must now prove they are living legally in the country before receiving or renewing a Texas driver's license or identification card. Under the new administrative rule, the Department of Public Safety will require immigration documents that prove a person's lawful status.

After verifying an immigration document, DPS will include the designation "Temporary Visitor" and the date the person's status expires on the card, the governor's office said in a statement Wednesday. The face of the card also will look different, making it easily distinguishable.

To receive a duplicate or renewal identification or driver's license, the person must show the immigration status has been extended or updated, DPS said.

U.S. citizens do not have to provide documentation, the agency said.

DPS will not issue identification or driver's licenses to applicants who have permission to be in the U.S. for less than six months. Those who are not legally in the country or who overstayed without permission cannot get a driver's license or identification card.

Gov. Rick Perry praised the new rule, which took effect this month. The rule was adopted in August, DPS said.

The Public Safety Commission asked for the guideline, saying it was necessary to verify residency in the state, enhance security and deter fraud and misrepresentation.

The change brings Texas closer to complying with the federal REAL ID Act, said DPS spokesman Tom Vinger. The act requires states to issue drivers licenses to U.S. citizens or legal immigrants or create specially marked licenses if they are issued to people who cannot prove they are in the country legally.

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