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Rolly: Utah law keeps lifelong U.S. citizen from her license

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Paul Rolly, Tribune columnist

By paul rolly

Tribune Columnist

First published Nov 23 2012 01:01AM
Updated Mar 6, 2013 11:33PM

Vonetta Fackrell is an 86-year-old U.S. citizen whose parents were born in the United States in the late 19th century before their families moved to Canada, where they met, married and had most of their children before moving back to Utah in the 1930s.

She has lived in Utah for 80 years, been married to her husband, a World War II vet, for 68 years, worked at the Tooele Army Depot for several years and has had a driver license for 70 years.

But when she attempted to renew her license this year, she was told that she is an "illegal alien" and ineligible.

She thought she had done everything by the book. When renewing her license, she brought her Social Security card, her birth certificate and two utility bills to show her current address.

But she was born in Canada, and despite the fact her parents were U.S. citizens, automatically making her a U.S. citizen, the state Bureau of Vital Statistics only goes back to 1905 with birth certificates, so she can’t prove they were born here.

Now that she has been denied a new license and declared by some bureaucrat at the Utah Driver License office an illegal immigrant, she can’t cash checks without her photo ID, use her credit card without photo ID or board a plane without photo ID.

And, of course, she can’t drive.

Driver License Division Director Nannette Rolfe says the new Utah law was passed in 2010 to comply with federal requirements of proof of citizenship. She said when the parents re-entered the U.S. with their children, they all should have been issued certificates of citizenship. Without that, or other proof of citizenship, she must be classified differently under the federal requirements. Without that proof, she would have to apply for a limited state ID.

While people like Fackrell may fall through the cracks, Rolfe says the new law has "cleaned up the system quite a bit."

Meanwhile • Linda Fontenot was meticulous in gathering all the identification forms she needed to renew her driver license under the new restrictive identification laws in Utah.

She had her passport, her Social Security card, utility bills to prove where she lives and even made sure she sported a good haircut and modest makeup.

She flew down from her Montana vacation cabin on Hebgen Lake to avoid having her license expire, then stood in a long line, had her photo snapped and sat down again to wait until her number was called to pick up her new license.

That was when a "nice woman who was helping" told her she was there one year too early. Her license doesn’t expire until August, 2013.

Budget-conscious Utahns • ShopAtHome.com recently conducted a survey to measure consumer holiday and shopping and gift-giving habits.

In particular, the online retailer looked at how consumers are choosing to be thrifty this year. For example, 63 percent of consumers consider re-gifting, or the practice of wrapping up a gift one receives and giving it as a present to someone else, as a smart way to be thrifty.

Thirty-seven percent of those surveyed view that practice as tacky.

By the way, the states whose citizens mostly view regifting as thrifty rather than tacky are topped by Washington and Utah.

prolly@sltrib.com

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