California Driver's License Program For Those Here Illegally Surpasses 1 Million Drivers
More than 1 million immigrants in the country illegally have obtained special California driver's licenses since the state first began issuing them a little more than three years ago, the state Department of Motor Vehicles announced Wednesday as officials hailed the number as a major milestone.
Assembly Bill 60, which took effect in January 2015, requires the DMV to issue driver's licenses if applicants can prove their identity and California residency, as well as meet all testing requirements, regardless of whether they can show they are in the country lawfully. As of March 30, about 1,001,000 immigrants have obtained the licenses, which are renewable after five years.
Supporters of the law argued that it would make roadways safer by requiring a driving test and providing less motivation for drivers afraid of being deported to flee the scene of a traffic accident.
Then-Assemblyman Luis Alejo, who wrote the landmark 2013 bill, called Wednesday's news a win for all Californians.
"It's been successful for over a million families who can now drive to work, take their kids to school in the morning or go see the doctor without fear that their car is going to be impounded," said Alejo, now a Monterey County supervisor. "Now their lives are better, and our roads and highways are safer for everyone."
The law passed after more than a decade of fierce debate. Critics at the time blasted California for giving out the licenses, saying they legitimize illegal immigration and make it easier for such immigrants to remain in the country.