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California Bill Would Allow Driver Licenses for Illegal Immigrants

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The California Safe and Responsible Driver Act is a proposed bill to give a DMV-issued driver’s license to all illegal immigrants in California who can show proof of tax payment or insurance. Assembly Bill 60 (AB 60) was introduced by Luis Alejo (D- Salinas), following a new California law for 2013 which now grants state driver’s licenses to illegal immigrants who arrived in California as children.

Having uninsured drivers is a hazard for everyone.
Luis Alejo
Under the existing law, in the case of a legal, nonimmigrant driver’s license applicant, the DMV is required to issue a temporary license if the applicant successfully completes the application and related requirements. The term of the driver’s license coincides with the dates a person is authorized to work in the United States.

AB 60 would make several changes regarding the eligibility requirements for an original driver’s license or state identification. The legislation will allow persons who do not have legal presence in the United States to be eligible to apply for a California license.

Also, it permits applicants to submit a federal taxpayer number rather than a social security number, as required by the department. The bill will increase fees for a specified driver’s license, and delete fees for senior ID cards.

According to an article in the LA Times, Alejo estimates that there are up to one million illegal immigrants driving without licenses throughout the state.

“Having uninsured drivers is a hazard for everyone,” Alejo said. “The Safe and Responsible Driver Act improves safety on our roadways because it will ensure that immigrants that pay taxes will be eligible for a driver’s license with insurance requirements.”

The bill is opposed by Barbara Coe, president of the California Coalition for Immigration Reform, co-authors of Proposition 187.

Prop. 187 sought to deny public benefits to illegal immigrants back in November, 1994.

Coe’s main concern is that DMV-provided driver’s licenses will allow illegal immigrants to access several rights and services reserved for American citizens.

While Coe raises obvious repercussions regarding illegal immigrants access to Americans’ rights, in the long run it seems beneficial to have uninsured drivers on the road be able to acquire insurance. Though this may stir some controversy throughout the country, California legislators are taking steps to streamline the immigration process for those who may or may not have arrived here illegally.

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