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Immigration Reform News 2014: 1.4 Million Undocumented Immigrants Expected to Apply for Licenses in California Under 'AB 60' Bill

First Posted: Jan 02, 2015 12:28 PM EST
California begins issuing driver's licenses to undocumented immigrants

Photo : Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images

Undocumented immigrants in California are expected to apply for driver's licenses in record numbers, NBC Los Angeles reported. Foreigners who are in the country illegally and reside in the Golden State are benefiting from what is known as "AB 60," a bill passed by the Legislature in 2013 that enables them to receive the documents in spite of their status.

The California Department of Motor Vehicles expects 1.4 million people to apply for a license in the first three years of the program and has expanded resources to tackle the demand. Prospective licensees must hold appointments at one of four newly created DMV offices. One of them, located in San Jose, will serve as a temporary processing center and has nearly 100 windows to handle expected rush.

The licenses issued to undocumented residents will include a distinctive marking and will not be considered a valid form of federal identification. But advocates say they help integrate migrants who must drive to work and shuttle children to school, while law-enforcement officials say the program will improve road safety because licensed drivers must be tested and insured.

California Assemblyman Eduardo Garcia, a Democrat, called AB 60 a "major victory" for immigrants, the Desert Sun noted.

"It's exciting, certainly historic and a great thing for California," Garcia said. "Having properly trained, tested, licensed and insured drivers on our roads is not only important, it's a priority."

An organizer, Ramona Felix, who helped many residents book appointments at the DMV ahead of the program's enactment, said she was excited about the security the law means for the community of undocumented immigrants.

"For me, this is a huge achievement, I'm really happy," Felix said. "The most important part is that people will no longer get their cars taken away."

California is home to an estimated 2.6 million undocumented immigrants, one of the highest concentrations in the United States, the Desert Sun detailed. The figure is based on data from the Public Policy Institute of California, a nonprofit, nonpartisan think tank.

California is one of 10 states that now provide licenses to immigrants in the country illegally.

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