CA immigrant advocates preparing early for driver license law

LOS ANGELES – In less than six months, immigrants who don’t have legal status will be able to legally drive in California and advocates are now getting ready for it.

AB60 was signed into law by Governor Gerry Brown in October 2013 and will take effect in January of 2015.

Advocates like Anthony Ng said there is close to half a million undocumented Asians living in California.

Until Ng got his driver’s license, the President Obama’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, he said his daily school load, work, and advocacy were difficult to manage.

“I preferred to take the metro because I was so scared to be pulled over, I would be arrested or whatever. My brother, when he wasn’t a US citizen yet, he had an expired driver’s license. He got pulled over and had a bad encounter with the police. I was so scared of having that same experience I decided to take a two hour metro bus rather than having a one hour drive,” Ng of the Asian Americans Advancing Justice said.

California’s Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) is now going through a public comment period as it considers how to initiate the new law.

Ng said with the application process expected to be similar to basic driving requirements, it’s time to prepare.

“We encourage people, or members of our community to renew their passports if they have the ability to. We know there’s some process in that and some difficulties but were trying to make sure it’s accessible as possible within the AB60 context. As well as making sure you’re able to renew your residency here in California, you have tax returns, bank accounts or folks who have names in utility bills — those things you can use,” he said.

Several states have laws that allow undocumented immigrants to drive legally. However, federal law requires the licenses to look different from the standard state driver’s licenses for federal security reasons.

While, the ability to drive legally is welcomed by immigrant rights advocates, some are proceeding with caution, asking for assurances.

“We encourage the DMV to add provisions to ensure that AB60 licenses are treated like any other California driver license by law enforcement officers and agencies,” said Julia Harumi Mass, Senior Staff Attorney of the American Civil Liberties Union of Northern California.

After the DMV’s public comment period ends this month, it will host a series of town hall meetings throughout the state, hoping to hear suggestions on how to finally begin this new law. With a report from Rommel Conclara

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5 Comments on this post.

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  • Mario
    20 June 2014 at 2:33 am - Reply

    Drivers license for illegals,…. how about voters ID for US citizen.

  • noz
    20 June 2014 at 8:17 am - Reply

    this is the strong message sent to illegal aliens wannabe. come to america illegally, you all can live the american dream in mexifornia.

  • JRB
    20 June 2014 at 9:16 am - Reply

    California is place for people that don’t have I.D ? A place for crazy people that broke the law? Advocates is all people that broke the law of America they should be call losers?

  • filam
    22 June 2014 at 11:08 am - Reply

    if you don’t like American laws go back to the Philippines. try to change the laws there

  • wil
    22 June 2014 at 3:27 pm - Reply

    Illegals should not be able to get a driver license. A driver license is a breeder document, which means once they get it, they can get just about any other document, except for a US passport. I believe that they should be sent back to their country of origin. whether one is in the country 1 year or 50 yrs once found out they should be taken into custody and removed from the country. I don’t mean put them in jail but put them in some type of holding facility until they can get their personal business in order and then deport them with in 60 days after apprehension.