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Law Change Hurts Texas Landscape Companies

Industry News, Legislation

The law prohibits immigrants with less than six months remaining on their visas from getting or renewing a driver's license.

WFAA (Dallas, Texas) | February 2, 2009

The demand for lawn maintenance will be going up in the next few months.

But residents could be waiting quite a while to get someone out to cut their lawns.

Some businesses are struggling to get their workers to their jobs.

The problem - a change in the law.

Some landscaping companies depend on workers from other countries to get the job done.

But this year, some can't get behind the wheel because there are new rules to get a Texas drivers license and it appears that these workers don't make the cut.

The landscaping business peaks in the spring and summer months, but some owners fear they won't have enough workers to do the job.

Shane Farrar hires foreign workers every year through a visa program. He spends $8,000 a year to do all the paperwork, to do it the right away. But this year, there's a big problem.

"Here we have 15 guys coming in and after you spend that kind of money, they are not going to let you get their drivers license. I can't drive five or six trucks," he said.

He says his employees won't be able to drive because of the new rules the Texas Department of Public Safety approved in October.

Under the law, immigrants who have less than six months remaining on their visa, cannot get a license, or even renew it -- apparently, those with less than a year also are being denied.

The visas Farrar applies for are for less than ten months.

"I can't go there everyday," he said. "You know you all did your work and now it's time to load up and go to the grocery store. I am doing it the legal way."

He doesn't know how his workers will get home.

It's an issue that's hitting landscaping companies across North Texas.

Green Meadows Landscaping in Lewisville and three Dallas workers filed a lawsuit against DPS, demanding a temporary injunction.

Farrar hopes it sends a message to the state that the rules are broken and need to be fixed right away.

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