AUSTIN - People who aren't U.S. citizens must now prove they are living legally in the country before receiving or renewing a Texas driver's license or identification card.
And the license they get will look different from that issued to American citizens.
Under a rule that took effect Oct. 1, the Texas Department of Public Safety is requiring documentation that proves an immigrant's lawful status.
After verifying the documentation, DPS will include the designation "Temporary Visitor" and the date the person's legal status expires on the license.
The face of the license looks different from that issued to American citizens, making it easily distinguishable.
To receive a duplicate or renewal license, a person must show that his or her immigration status has been updated, DPS said.
U.S. citizens do not have to provide documentation, the agency said.
DPS will not issue identification cards or driver's licenses to applicants who have permission to be in the U.S. for less than six months. And those who are not legally in the country or who have overstayed without permission cannot get a driver's license or identification card.
Gov. Rick Perry praised the new rule.
"Texas is a great place to live and work, and while we welcome legally documented individuals to the Lone Star State, we must ensure that this privilege is not abused by those seeking to enter our country illegally," the governor said.
"The safety of Texans remains a paramount concern of my administration, and these new guidelines will provide additional security."
A statement from the governor's office noted that the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks "were carried out by terrorists whose visas had expired yet possessed valid driver licenses and identification cards issued by other states. Some of those hijackers had been stopped for traffic violations shortly before the attacks, yet law enforcement officers had no way of knowing at the time of the stops the hijackers were in the country illegally.
The new Texas procedures bring the state closer to complying with a federal law, passed after 9/11, which requires states to take steps to ensure that driver's licenses are issued only to people who have a right to be in the country.