Ga. Bill Would Put 'Noncitizen' On Certain Driver's Licenses | WABE 90.1 FM

Ga. Bill Would Put 'Noncitizen' On Certain Driver's Licenses

Feb 22, 2017

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.

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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.