IDs and birth certificates

The Texas Conference of Catholic Bishops opposes efforts that hinder immigrants’ ability to obtain Texas drivers’ licenses and IDs or birth certificates for immigrants’ citizen children.

Recent studies indicate Texas has nearly one million workers who cannot legally obtain drivers’ licenses or insure their vehicles because current law requires proof of citizenship or a personal identification certificate before an application can be made.

Nevertheless, these unlicensed drivers regularly operate vehicles to get to work, shop, or care for their families, thus creating a problem of uninsured and untrained drivers on our streets. Prohibiting these residents from getting a driver’s permit punishes and excludes some of the most valuable and hardworking people in our communities, and does not achieve the stated purpose of making our communities more secure or law abiding.

Regardless of a person’s immigration status, the community is safer when drivers have completed training and test requirements, and when residents are registered in the system so that the state can keep better track of who is driving.

All children born in the United States are citizens by right of birth. To deny any such citizen a birth certificate is an act of oppression and a violation of a basic human right. As Catholics and Christians we cannot support such acts.

Texas bishops support legislation to establish a provisional Texas resident driver’s permit for undocumented immigrants, providing them with the ability to drive legally in Texas after they successfully pass a driving test, buy insurance, undergo a criminal background check, and prove state residency.

The bishops oppose efforts to amend the U.S. and the Texas constitutions to restrict automatic citizenship for native born children of immigrants because it would effectively leave the children stateless.