Dallas retiree flummoxed after she's labeled undocumented immigrant

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by CARLA WADE

Bio | Email | Follow: @CarlaNWade

WFAA

Posted on March 13, 2014 at 8:16 PM

Updated Friday, Mar 14 at 5:18 PM

DALLAS -- Retired and living on her own, Bobbie Stubblefield enjoys puzzles. It keeps her 82-year-old mind sharp.

But for more than a month, renewing her driver's license has been more challenging than a 1,000 piece jigsaw she worked on in her living room Thursday.

She was born and raised in Dallas County. There's no doubt Bobbie Stubblefield is an American citizen.

Even so, she said the Department of Public Safety thinks she's an undocumented immigrant, and now she can’t get her driver’s license renewed.

“From ’66 to until now,” she said, “I’ve never had a problem getting a license."

She went to renew it in January at a field office. It was supposed to expire on the 21st. She said once there, she was asked to show a green card, because their records indicated she was not a U.S. citizen.

According to the DPS, her citizenship was not listed as "confirmed" and they were updating their records.

“Well, I was born right here. I’ve been here 82 years. Raised right here,” Stubblefield said. “I don’t know what could have happened.”

She was confused, but told there was a simple fix. She just needed to bring in her birth certificate to prove citizenship.

That proved to be another complication.

Her birth certificate spells her first name "Bobby," ending with a "-y." She spells it ending in "-ie."

She was told the error on the birth certificate would have to be changed. So, she sent paperwork and a $22 fee to the Department of Vital Statistics.

“They sent all that back to me and my money back,” she said.

They also sent a letter telling her to go to district court and have her name legally changed. That costs $200. It’s money she said she doesn't have while her car sits parked in the garage.

“I pay somebody to take me to the grocery store. I’ve had to pay people to do things," Stubblefield said. “And well, you know, you don’t have money all the time when you are on a fixed income.”

News 8 contacted DPS. Press Secretary Tom Vinger sent this reply by e-mail:

"Since 2008, when Texas implemented proof of lawful presence in order to comply with the federal Real ID Act, the Department has been updating our records as applicants come into the office if the citizenship is not listed as confirmed.

The Department is required by law to collect citizenship information as part of the DL application process. To reduce the risk of identity theft, enhance security and protect the integrity of the licensing process, individuals must provide documentation to verify their U.S. citizenship or lawful presence status. In the event the system does not reflect the confirmed citizenship status of an individual, an applicant for renewal will be asked to provide documentation.

In this case, she provided her birth certificate so we could update our records. However, it was noted that the spelling of her first name on the birth certificate provided did not match her first name in the driver license file.

We communicated two options to her: to reissue her driver license with the name on her birth certificate or get her birth certificate changed. DPS will continue to work with the customer."

Stubblefield said she is worried that changing the spelling on her license to match her birth certificate would lead to more problems, since it would not match her name on other legal documents, including the Social Security checks she depends on to live.

E-mail cwade@wfaa.com

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