California: Give Illegal Immigrants Driver's Licenses

Sarah Jean Seman

9/13/2013 1:15:00 PM - Sarah Jean Seman

Illegal immigrants may soon be issued California driver’s licenses by merely proving they live in the state. A bill supporting United States citizenship no longer be a requirement for driver’s license applications passed 55-19 in the state Assembly Thursday.

California has the largest population of illegal immigrants in the United States, according the United States Department of Homeland Security. It reported 2,830,000 undocumented residents in 2011, nearly equal to the amount in all other states combined.

At least two million undocumented immigrants could obtain, what California legislation deemed, the primary form of identification in the state.

Governor Jerry Brown (D-CA) has only to sign the bill for it to go into effect January 1, 2015. Based on a statement released Thursday night, Brown seems all in favor of its passage:

This bill will enable millions of people to get to work safely and legally. Hopefully, it will send a message to Washington that immigration reform is long past due.

Existing California state law requires driver’s license applicants show federally approved proof of United States citizenship to the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV). Approved documents include a U.S. birth certificate, passport or military identification card.

Proof of U.S. citizenship would be void under AB 60:

This bill would authorize require the department to issue an original driver’s license to a person who is unable to submit satisfactory proof that the applicant’s presence in the United States is authorized under federal law if he or she meets all other qualifications for licensure and provides satisfactory proof to the department of his or her identity and California residency.

While many, including Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX), believe immigration reform is necessary, this hardly seems the best approach.