Racism: November 2008 Archives
Lisa Falkenberg of the Houston Chronicle investigates a new Texas administrative rule that seems part of the state GOP's scheme to turn Texas blue in the next 10 years:
The Houston nonprofit executive was shifting weight in line at an Humble DPS office earlier this month, waiting to renew his driver's license, when he noticed a couple of people in front of him come away looking confused or exasperated.
When he got to the front, he understood why.
The woman behind the counter ran his name, Jose Villarreal, in her computer. Then, he says, she promptly asked him to prove his citizenship.
Villarreal was taken aback. He was born and raised in South Texas, in a little town called Orange Grove, and moved to Houston in 1976. At 61, he'd never been asked by DPS to prove he was here legally.
"One, I was mad. Two, I was humiliated," he told me. "Why should I have to justify my citizenship, when, as far as I can tell, we have three or four generations of Villarreals living on this side of the border?"
When he asked questions, a supervisor handed him a copy of a new Texas Department of Public Safety rule aimed at preventing illegal immigrants from obtaining driver's licenses.
"I read that over and said, 'This doesn't apply to me. This is for someone who's applied for citizenship,' " Villarreal recalled. "And they said, 'Well, the computer doesn't show you in here, so you're going to have to show a birth certificate.' "
... the new administrative rule ... was quietly adopted over the summer by the Public Safety Commission after lawmakers refused for years to pass it. ... the one thing the rule wasn't supposed to do is snag citizens. The rule specifically states, "If U.S. citizen, no documentation needed." That's a bit of a Catch-22 since, in some cases, the state can't tell if you're a citizen without seeing documentation.