Cambio de Colores 2005

Latinos in Missouri:
Connecting Research to Policy and Practice
Hoy y Mañana

Reynolds Alumni Center, University of Missouri-Columbia,
March 30, 31 & April 1st, 2005

Drivers Licenses: Implications of the Intelligence Reform Bill

Theme: Civil Rights


  • Michele Waslin, Ph.D., National Council of La Raza
  • Patricia Churchill, General Counsel for the Missouri Department of Revenue

Requirements for obtaining drivers licenses vary from state to state and it is often difficult for immigrants, both legal and illegal, to provide DOT workers with the documents they need to get a drivers license. New legislation in the form of the Intelligence Reform Bill, would change the state-by-state aspect of drivers license issuance and set federal standards for drivers licenses.

Patricia Churchill, General Counsel for the Missouri Department of Revenue, said Missouri currently requires two forms of identification- one from a list of primary IDs and one from a secondary list or two from the primary list. She said that if documents presented are not in English, they are sent to translators at the department’s expense. With more and more immigrants, this is becoming a strain on Missouri resources, she said.

“I’m not sure how much longer we can continue offering those services,” Churchill said.

She also discussed the new requirement in Missouri that will take effect July 1 that will require everyone applying for a drivers license to show proof of legal presence in the United States. The new state regulations also limit the validity of the license to the length of the applicant’s legal presence in the United States.

Michele Waslin, of the National Council of La Raza, talked about how the Intelligence Reform Bill will effectively “trump state requirements for drivers license.” The bill, however, is not as severe as the Real ID Act, a piece of legislation that has been passed in the House and is now waiting Senate approval.

Waslin said that while the Intelligence Reform Bill calls for federal issuance requirements, it sets up a “negotiated rule-making process” in which several groups can help to decide these requirements. She said the National Immigration Law Center has applied to represent immigrant interests.

The Real ID Act, however, would not just call for the establishment of federal requirements, it would actually say what those requirements are. Waslin said she and many organizations are hoping the bill will not pass, as she believes states are more appropriate entities to handle the issuance of drivers licenses than the federal government.

Day 1, Wednesday March 30th, 2005, Breakout 6, 4 P.M.

By Jack Beesson

By Jack Beeson

This conference report contributed by

Mid-Missouri bilingual newspaper.