Sen. Joe Gruters proposes denotation of citizenship status on driver’s license

by | Jan 3, 2024

Sen. Joe Gruters introduced Senate Bill 1168, mandating a noncitizen designation on driver’s licenses for non-U.S. citizens

Sarasota Republican Sen. Joe Gruters filed legislation on Tuesday that, among other provisions, would mandate the explicit indication of noncitizen status on driver’s licenses.

The measure, Senate Bill 1168, proposes licenses to carry an “NC” designation — standing for noncitizen — to demarcate the forms of identification from those issued to U.S. citizens. The inclusion of the mark is intended to streamline processes like voter eligibility verification, where only citizens are permitted to vote. A House companion bill has been filed by Rep. Lauren Melo.

While the bill does not explicitly list all categories of noncitizens who would be affected, based on standing Florida Statutes it would likely apply to permanent residents holding a green card, visa holders (including students and workers), refugees, asylees, individuals with Temporary Protected Status (TPS), and Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) recipients. The Capitolist attempted to contact Sen. Gruters for clarification.

“Licenses issued to individuals who submitted any of the documents required pursuant to s. 322.08(2)(c)5., 7. must include “NC” to denote that such individual is a noncitizen,” reads the bill.

If adopted, the bill’s ratification would reflect an emerging trend in the United States, where red-leaning states have begun adopting laws to delineate citizens and noncitizens. Earlier this year, Ohio’s General Assembly passed a law requiring photo ID for in-person voting, including a provision that adds a noncitizen label on its driver’s licenses and ID cards. In Ohio’s case, the notation is specifically for documented immigrants and is printed on the back of new Ohio ID cards and driver’s licenses.

House Democrat Rep. Anna Eskamani spoke against the measure on X, pointing out that undocumented individuals are unable to receive driver’s licenses, and that statutes cited within the bill indicate it would affect people in Florida holding a green card, work authorization, or have nonimmigrant classification.

“Just another bill to appeal to anti-immigrant fervor,” she remarked.

In 2020, Gruters sponsored the unsuccessful Senate Bill 1822, which would have brought forth a mandate for the adoption of the E-Verify system, a federal electronic database designed to verify the employment eligibility of workers. The legislation additionally would have required that contractors obtain an affidavit from subcontractors asserting that they do not employ or contract with unauthorized aliens.

Gruters’ bill also seeks to amend existing state law to broaden the list of acceptable forms of identification for voter registration. This expanded list, as detailed in the filing, now includes U.S. passport cards, identification cards issued by federally recognized tribal nations or Indian tribes, and United States Merchant Mariner Credentials.


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