Lawmakers, civil-liberties advocates and immigrant rights' groups are calling for and end to new Texas driver's license requirements that they say discriminate against legal immigrants and cause unnecessary hardships for thousands of people. Immigrant rights' groups have called the policy institutionalized racism that could make Texas roads more dangerous, reports the El Paso Times.

Under the new rules, license applicants are required to present immigration documents to prove they are in the country legally before they are allowed to receive an original, renewal or duplicate driver's license or identification card. The new rules also require legal immigrants to annually renew their driver's licenses in person and create a new type of license for foreign residents legally in the country on temporary visas. The licenses have a vertical format and are labeled "Temporary Visitor." Legal permanent residents would still have to receive a card stamped as temporary even though their status as "green card" holder does not expire and eventually allows them to apply for U.S. citizenship.

Texas is only the second state in the nation to have a different-looking license for a particular set of drivers, according to the National Immigration Law Center, which says different licenses can lead to discrimination, reports the Austin American-Statesman.

Gov. Rick Perry defended the new rules as necessary steps to strengthen security in the post-9-11 era. But critics said the changes would result in racial profiling and put unreasonable burdens on driver's license applicants, resulting in more unlicensed and uninsured drivers. Critics said also say the rules unfairly deny licenses to legal U.S. residents and increase the likelihood lawful immigrants will be discriminated against because their driver's license labels them as different, thus alienating permanent residents.

The American Civil Liberties Union and Hispanic members of the Texas House of Representatives, called on the Texas Public Safety Commission to rescind the regulations and warned of possible legal action if they remain in force, reports the Fort Worth Star-Telegram.