A controversial DPS policy is now law thanks to an amendment to the education funding bill added by Rep. Jim Pitts (R-Waxahachie). Back in 2008 the DPS began requiring applicants for driver's licenses to prove they were a citizen or were here legally. The passage of the bill puts to bed legal challenges to DPS' authority to check immigration status.
Beginning on September 1, 2011, everyone applying for, or renewing, a driver's license will be required to show proof of citizenship or legal status. What's so bad about that, you ask.
The implementation of this law will lead to an increase in the number of people driving on Texas roads without valid driver's licenses and insurance. Is that really the best way to safeguard the welfare of the driving public?
The Texas Department of Public Safety is responsible for patrolling the state's highways and for protecting the governor and the capitol - not for being surrogate immigration agents. Whether someone is here legally or not is not the business of law enforcement officials. It is not against the law to be in Texas without the permission of the federal government. If we're going to crack down on folks who have risked their lives to come here and work, leave it up to los federales.
The Constitution makes no distinction between citizens and non-citizens when it comes to our rights under the Bill of Rights. The Equal Protection Clause makes no distinction between those who are here with the blessing of the government and those who aren't. Preventing people from obtaining driver's licenses and insurance because of their immigration status serves no purpose other than to provide Rep. Pitts with an issue he can wave in front of the wingnuts come campaign season.
"Another knee-jerk reaction," The Defense Rests (Oct. 9, 2008)
"DPS calls for drivers' license checkpoints," The Defense Rests (Nov. 12, 2008)
"Judge shoots down DPS drivers' license plan," The Defense Rests (April 10, 2009)