Georgia lawmakers are considering a bill that would require the label “noncitizen” to be printed on driver’s licenses issued to people without U.S. citizenship, including those with legal permanent residency.
The Georgia Department of Driver Services currently prints the phrase “limited-term” on licenses for people who are not U.S. citizens, but who are in the country lawfully.
State Rep. Alan Powell, R-Hartwell, said the “limited-term” phrase isn’t clear enough.
“If you’re a noncitizen, you’re a noncitizen. Whether you’re here with a visa or without a visa," Powell said." I mean, it just quite frankly looks to me like that’s just a common sense approach to it.”
Powell said that driver’s licenses should specify citizenship status because it’s used as identification purposes in many instances, like when applying for a concealed carry permit.
“A driver’s license is the standard, the first form of an ID,” Powell said.
Opponents argue the “non-citizen” label is unnecessary.
State Rep. Mike Glanton, D-Jonesboro, in addressing the concealed carry permit example, said when he applied for a permit, he had to have a background check, which he said would have revealed whether he had U.S. citizenship.
“To suggest that a driver’s license is going to determine my citizenship versus the background check – I find problematic,” Glanton said.
He said he also had concerns about the label leading to discrimination.
A state House subcommittee held a hearing on the bill Tuesday, but did not vote on the proposal.
Powell, the bill’s sponsor, said he’s willing to work with lawmakers to consider different phrasing options.