Texas Democrats want to get rid of new DPS rules

Some Democratic lawmakers along with Texas residents who have had trouble getting drivers' licenses under new Department of Public Safety rules are pushing to undo the DPS regulations.

They say the rules, which took effect Oct. 1, harm U.S. citizens and legal immigrants alike.

Rep. Ruth Jones McClendon, of San Antonio, said the DPS overstepped its authority by creating new identification rules last fall for drivers' license applicants without getting approval from the Legislature. She filed a bill to stop the policy, and that bill was before a House committee Monday. Democratic Sen. Judith Zaffirini, of Laredo, filed an identical proposal in the Senate.

Under the new DPS rules, people seeking drivers' licenses who aren't U.S. citizens must show they are in the country legally and that their immigration documents don't expire within six months.

DPS also changed the look of the licenses given to legal residents and added the designation "temporary visitor'' on the card.

McClendon, Democratic Rep. Rafael Anchia, of Dallas, and other opponents said not every U.S. citizen has a birth certificate. They also say the rules prevent people who need to drive from being able to do so or causes them to drive illegally without a license and without having to prove they are insured.

Republican Gov. Rick Perry supports the DPS rules. His spokeswoman Katherine Cesinger said the rule change "ensures public safety and national security.'' She said the identification requirement is not unreasonable and shows that applicants are who they say they are.