Judge Tells Texas DPS that Legal Immigrants Really Do Deserve a License to Drive

At the end of January, we directed your attention to a lawsuit against the Texas Department of Public Safety filed on behalf of three men -- each born in Mexico but currently living in Dallas and Denton counties with valid work visas -- who were denied driver's licenses because of recently rewritten DPS regulations. DPS last fall decided to no longer issue licenses and identification cards to workers whose visas are set to expire within six months, and that, says the suit, interfered with the men being able to get to their landscaping gigs in Lewisville, where they work for a company that has, for the last decade, hired workers through the federal H2B visa program.

Well, just this morning a judge in Austin -- Orlinda Naranjo, a Rick Perry appointee -- said that DPS is in no position to make such decisions and issued a temporary injunction that prevents the department from enforcing its policy. As Naranjo notes in her ruling, which can be read in its entirety here, "This case is not about illegal immigrants obtaining drivers licenses, it is about legal residents who have been denied or have been threatened a denial of a driver license."

Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund attorney David Hinojosa, who's handling the case, says in a media release that "DPS has created havoc by attempting to inject its political agenda into the lawmaking process and improperly giving second-class status to individuals who in every way have complied with the laws of the land regarding their presence in the United States and Texas. The court's injunction puts a temporary stop to that agenda and we look forward to a permanent injunction after trial."

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