Legal immigrants now getting licenses

By Laura Kinsler | Tribune Staff
Published: March 20, 2015

NEW PORT RICHEY — Pasco County Tax Collector Mike Fasano said his office started issuing driver’s licenses to legal immigrants on March 12.

Pasco County took over driver’s license processing from the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles 12 years ago, but the office had always turned away applicants who were not American citizens. Documented immigrants, people with legal residency and those who have temporary visas were sent to Hillsborough, Hernando and Polk counties for service.

Customer Service Director Greg Giordano said the service is only available in the Gulf Harbors office, but there has been a steady stream of customers from day one.

“We did not advertise it, but somehow the word’s getting out,” he said. “It’s mostly word of mouth.”

A state law passed in 2010 requires county tax collectors to provide all of the services that were offered by the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles by June 30. Fasano pledged to begin processing driver’s license applications for non-U.S. citizens a few months before the deadline.

Fasano succeeded the late Mike Olson, who had held the office for 32 years and refused to provide the service to non-U.S. citizens. Lake County was the only other large county that does not provide the service.

Dade City has the county’s largest concentration of Hispanic residents, and Zephyrhills is home to a substantial number of Canadian transplants. Fasano said the service will be available in East Pasco starting Monday.

In addition, Fasano has expanded the driver’s license services for U.S. citizens at the West Pasco Government Center.

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