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SB 9: Your Offense is Driving-while-Texan

05/08/2011

Gangland bill poses driver identity dragnet for all Texans

[As written for the Dallas Libertarian Examiner]

SB9, a bill to expand the ability to convict and extend the sentence lengths of gang members, has turned into a driver identity dragnet for all Texans.  It’s complicated, due to the wide berth given to local police to enforce immigration on the lazy, inexpensive side of Homeland Security. Sen. Tommy Williams presumedly discussed “doing the right thing,” along with some vendors whose priorities are cited directly in the bill.

If passed, this bill allows police departments to take and retain pictures of your license plate for up to a year, whether you are a gang member or not.  Texas would also call for citizenship, specifically birth certificates, to be inspected at the DMV windows in order to get a drivers license permit.  This has been interpreted as Real ID compliant by Steve McGraw with Texas DHS, in video from the hearing. [3/30 Transportation & Homeland Security @ 53:00, 1:15:30]

Many States require license applicants to show a birth certificate, but they will also accept alternative proof of identity. Proof of citizenship, biometrics [facial recognition, fingerprinting] and has never been a requirement to attain an ID card in the US until the Real ID Act was passed May 11th, 2005.

SB12, authored by Burt Solomons, would prevent Texas officers from asking for proof of citizenship when stopped by police in an attempt to improve immigration enforcement. If this was about effective immigration enforcement or even gang convictions, bills like Solomon’s, would be too straightforward for Gov. Perry’s expanded rule-by-emergency.  SB9 is about how Texas improves the business of its prison and incarceration ceremonies to keep jail cells full.

“There are a few changes to criminal penalties in SB 9. The increased penalties generally take discretion out of the hands of judges and guarantee Texas taxpayers pay for lengthy incarceration regardless of the impact this may or may not have on public safety,” says Matt Simpson, prison policy analyst at the Texas ACLU.

This bill also includes more teeth-grinding license expenses at the DPS window to pay the State to ineffectually scrutinize your citizenship.

“Any revenue from increased fees will likely go to covering routine DPS budget items and will not be available for equipment upgrades and staffing increases at drivers license offices.  SB 9 functionally increases drivers license fees without addressing the issues currently causing mistakes and long waits at drivers license offices. Regardless, the immigration provisions are unworkable and require state employees to interpret federal immigration documents without meaningful training,” said Simpson.

Texas DPS has not responded to questions concerning how birth certificates will be handled, if they will be recorded or how long the data will be retained. There is no guarantee this private information will be secure. Without their input, we can look at other example States, like Florida and Washington who complied with Real ID benchmark demands for birth certificates.

Here is a projection of life in Texas if this bill passes, as is.

First, take the day off, because the DPS lines wrap around the block. Many citizens are turned away, mainly elderly and women, because the DPS systems don’t like their birth documents or marriage certificates. If your citizenship makes the grade, you will pay up to $20 more for your license.  Your license will now be an UN approved national-to-international travel document. [That is a bit much if you’re just out to get something at the Pick-N-Save.]  SB 9 won’t overcome the problem of motor vehicle administrators who succumb to prospects of internal fraud and sale of private information.

As SB 9 travels through the House, many Libertarians are becoming active on their own behalf fighting the bill, seeking alternatives to local ID cards subordinate to federal (global) governance standards.  It makes sense to refute any bill which would single you out for the offense of driving-while-Texan.

*Special thanks to source, Heather Fazio

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