License to Drive? Not So Fast, Even If You're a Legal Immigrant With a Valid Work Visa.

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Texas_DPS_Drivers.jpg
A lawsuit filed in Austin on Wednesday has found its way to the Courthouse News Service: Miguel Salazar and Edgar Soria, both of whom live in Dallas County, and Avila Trejo, currently a resident of Denton County, are suing the Texas Department of Public Safety because it refuses to issue them a driver's license. As far as the Mexican men -- and the Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund -- are concerned, they have every right to drive in this country: They each have valid work visas issued by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, and they need to get to work. All three are employed by Lewisville-based Green Meadows Landscaping.

But the DPS last fall changed its rules for dispensing licenses to people in the U.S. on work visas: It won't issue them to workers whose visas are set to expire within six months. Which, far as the trio and their attorneys are concerned, is interfering with their legal right to work -- because, after all, if they can't drive, they can't get to work. And, claims the lawsuit, the TDPS can't change laws anyway; that's up to the Texas Legislature. Says David Hinojosa, the MALDEF attorney handling the case, "DPS has tried to sneak these rules in through the back door and, in doing so, has created a litany of problems preventing both citizens and noncitizens with legal permission from receiving licenses."

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