California gears up for driver’s license law

17 Jan 14

UNITED STATES

After passing a law in October that will allow undocumented immigrants to apply for driver’s licenses, California is preparing for the influx of applications. An estimated 1.4 million to 2 million people will be eligible to apply under the new law that takes effect on or before Jan. 1, 2015. That law, AB 60, requires the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) to issue driver’s licenses to undocumented immigrants and design a card approved by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) that is consistent with the federal Real ID Act.

In a growing trend, California is the 11th state to allow undocumented drivers to obtain licenses. The other states are: Colorado, Connecticut, Illinois, Maryland, New Mexico, Nevada, Oregon, Utah, Vermont, Washington, and the District of Columbia. Nine states, including Florida, Massachusetts, New York and Texas, have recently introduced such legislation. Click here to see a map of state laws on this issue.

Under the California measure, driver’s license applicants will no longer be required to provide a social security number and prove legal residency for federal purposes. An applicant must submit an affidavit stating that he or she is ineligible for a social security number and unable to prove lawful presence. The law prohibits that information from being used to consider the individual’s immigration status as a basis for criminal investigation, arrest or detention.

The driver’s license for undocumented immigrants will differ from regular driver’s licenses. The DMV is working with the DHS to design the card. For example, the card must say on the front or back that it cannot be used as proof of identification for federal purposes, such as TSA (Transportation Security Administration) screening while boarding a plane. The Real ID Act sets out requirements for ID cards accepted by federal authorities for official purposes.

“We’re working with DHS to get approval of the design of the license that is acceptable,” California DMV spokesman Artemio Armenta told BAL Global News. “We have met with 32 consulates from 22 countries, as well as law enforcement agencies and labor organizations.” Like ordinary driver’s licenses, the card will also say that it “does not establish eligibility for employment, voter registration, or public benefits.”

Before implementation, the DMV is also required to solicit public comments and promulgate regulations. The agency will hold its first public meeting on Jan. 28 at the office of the Secretary of State, 1500 11th St., Sacramento, Calif. at 10 a.m.

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