AUSTIN, Texas, June 30 (UPI) -- An immigration-related provision tucked into a must-pass budget bill in Texas could prove burdensome to legal immigrants and U.S. citizens, critics say.
The bill will require people to prove U.S. citizenship or legal residence before they can renew or get a Texas driver's license, a measure that will affect almost all Texas adults, the Austin American-Statesman reported Wednesday.
Supporters of the driver's license policy say it will help combat terrorists and criminal activity by illegal immigrants, while opponents say it will force undocumented immigrants who have been in the United States for decades to either drive without licenses or face possible deportation to a country they might not know at all.
Currently, the rules of the Department of Public Safety, which issues driver's licenses, allow officers to ask a person applying for or renewing a license for proof of citizenship or legal status. Under the new law, DSP officers would be required to ask for such information from everyone.
State Rep. Eddie Rodriguez, D-Austin, said the law is likely lead to ethnic and racial profiling.
Luis Figueroa, a legislative attorney with the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund, criticized the measure passed by both chambers of the Texas legislature Tuesday.
"Tying immigration to driver's licenses is going to continue to be a disaster," he said.