US drivers licenses to be more difficult to obtain for everyone including immigrants

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On 2 May 2005, US Senate negotiators accepted a House plan to make states verify that driver's license applicants are US citizens or legal immigrants, but softened House-proposed changes in asylum laws.

The legislation won't be final until the House and Senate vote on it. The House could take it up later this week but the Senate won't vote until after it reconvenes 9 May.

Under the legislation, Americans applying for driver's licenses will have to bring far more information with them to motor vehicle offices. They will be asked to show birth certificates, a photo ID, proof of their Social Security number and a document with full name and home address, according to a copy of the bill obtained by The Associated Press. It was unclear how the legislation would affect the renewal of licenses for citizens.

Motor vehicle departments will be required to verify the documents and the Social Security numbers. States still could give licenses to illegal immigrants, but they would have different designs or colors to alert security officers that they are unacceptable as IDs for boarding planes or entering federal buildings.

States will have three years after the bill becomes law to meet the standards or their driver's licenses won't be accepted by federal officers for identification.

The immigration restrictions have White House backing and could help President Bush win support for a temporary worker program that he has said should include illegal immigrants already in the country.

State motor vehicle departments had opposed the driver's license provisions as too costly. They also complained state motor vehicle officials will be forced to take on the role of immigration officers. Civil liberties and gun rights supporters opposed the measure on privacy grounds, saying they fear driver's licenses will evolve into a national identification card.