There have been many attempts in recent years to grant special driver’s licenses to illegal immigrants in California. On Jan. 1, Section 1936.5 was added to the Civil Code and section 12801.6 was added to the Vehicle Code, which granted driving privileges to illegal immigrants who came to California as children. Earlier this month, Governor Brown signed Assembly Bill 60, extending the ability to apply for driver’s licenses to all undocumented residents. Under AB 60, new applicants will need to present several forms of personal identification, as well as pass the standard driving tests.
AB 60 was part of a larger state effort to increase the rights of undocumented immigrants. Gov. Brown also signed 8 other immigration bills into law, asserting that “while Washington waffles on immigration, California is forging ahead.” It is estimated that about 1.4 million undocumented immigrants will apply for special driving permits under this new law. The government should start issuing the new driver’s licenses in late 2014 or early 2015. When the law goes into effect, California will become one of 11 states granting driving privileges to undocumented residents.
What are the Arguments for Granting Driving Privileges?
Approximately 38 percent of California’s voter population is of Hispanic decent. A recent USC study concluded that at least 2.6 million people, largely Hispanic, lack legal residence in the state. Implementation of this bill will help these undocumented people get to and from work and school without fear of being pulled over by the police.
California State Senator Kevin de Leon praised AB 60 as an important “social justice and public safety bill.”There is some evidence from other states suggesting that the bill will reduce fatal crashes and improve public safety. Los Angeles Police Chief Charlie Beck supported the bill, stating that all Californians will be safer once those driving without a license are taught how to operate a car safely and are tested to ensure they meet state standards. Many other supporters asserted that these newly licensed drivers will be safer drivers. Drivers able to get licenses will eventually be required to have automobile insurance, leading to safer roads for all residents.
What are the Arguments against Granting Driving Privileges?
Opponents of the bill also voiced many concerns. Some opponents characterized the bill as incentive for breaking the law. These opponents oppose the idea of providing legal driving rights to those who broke the law in coming to the United States. Other critics argued that these new licenses will be used to commit voter fraud or make claims for public benefits. Recognizing this concern, the new driver’s licenses will include language noting that the license only confers the right to drive.
The most commonly voiced criticism of AB 60 is that this issue should be left to the federal government, and not individual states. The law creates a tension between federal and state laws. In addition, driving privileges for undocumented immigrants now vary state to state. An undocumented immigrant traveling between states, such as California and Arizona, could face difficulties. Many opponents argued that individual states should not be adopting piecemeal immigration laws. Despite the current stalemate in Washington, they assert that these issues are better left to Congress to handle at the federal level.
How do you feel about this important issue? Do you think California made the right decision allowing undocumented residents to apply for special driver’s licenses?
How Wallin & Klarich can Help
If you have a question about this change in the law, or any of the other recent changes for that matter, call Wallin & Klarich today. Wallin & Klarich has been in the business of vigorously representing clients in their time of need for over 30 years and we would like to help you with your case.
Our offices are located in Orange County, Los Angeles, San Diego, Riverside, San Bernardino, Ventura, West Covina, Victorville, Torrance and Sherman Oaks. Give us a call today at (888) 280-6839 for a free telephone consultation.