My name is Zahoor Gire. The passed (up) bill, HB 1058, was an opportunity for our legislators to give deserving Texans a chance. And make no mistake, these hardworking individuals are Texans through and through. Even without the title.

They emulate the values of Texans that have created a life worthy of the American Dream of their families and they communities. This upcoming bill, hopefully, is personal for me. As a small business owner in Houston, for 30 years I have had one employee. His name was Yousef. He worked as a driver for my company and due to complications in his immigration status, even after 30 years living in Texas, he was unable to renew his driving permit and was forced to return to his home country. A country that he had left 30 years ago to start anew in Houston. 

My heart goes out to Yousef and others who have made a life here, who have contributed to our economy, that have contributed to our culture, that have contributed positively and even paid taxes – and were still forced out. 

The situation can be easily alleviated. By providing permits to individuals without access to a drivers license is good for everyone. It increases public safety on our roads and ensures that drivers are tested, licensed, and insured. Lack of identification is a barrier for entry for so many that it impacts a person’s life. It is a step in a direction of self-sufficiency and employment. It can help speed up the process of identifying individuals in need and it can provide assistance to those in need when natural disasters strike. 

For those of you thinking why us, why now, the state of Texas would not be the first state to make this decision to grant an additional drivers license option. Sixteen other states and Washington, D.C., have already done this successfully before. Providing an additional driving permit option will increase socio-economic opportunities for individuals, all the while improving public safety and generating revenue for our state.

I urge all the elected officials to consider this and the impact it has on our neighbors and on our community for the betterment of Texas. Thank you. 

Editor’s Note: The above commentary was made by Zahoor Gire, a small business owner from Houston, Texas. The commentary was made at a news conference organized by the Drive Texas Adelante Campaign and held at the state Capitol on May 25, 2021. Drive Texas Adelante Campaign held the news conference to support House Bill 1058, authored by state Rep. Ramon Romero of Fort Worth. The bill would allow undocumented immigrants the chance to earn a Texas conditional driver’s permit. The bill was not given a hearing by the House State Affairs Committee.