Los Angeles Police Chief Charlie Beck said Wednesday that California should issue driver’s licenses to undocumented immigrants. L.A. City Attorney Carmen Trutanich agrees with Beck and calls the issue “a matter of public safety.”
“My personal belief is that they should be able to” have licenses, Beck said in an interview with the LA Times. “The reality is that all the things that we’ve done — ‘we’ being the state of California — over the last 14, 16 years have not reduced the problem one iota, haven’t reduced undocumented aliens driving without licenses. So we have to look at what we’re doing. When something doesn’t work over and over and over again, my view is that you should reexamine it to see if there is another way that makes more sense.”
Beck went on to say he does not believe licenses for undocumented immigrants should be identical to standard licenses.”It could be a provisional license” or “it could be a non-resident license,” Becks said.
Some immigrant advocates want a “full driver license,” that legal residents can apply for, because they fear states having a list of undocumented immigrants that could potentially fall in the wrong hands.
Undocumented immigrants were eligible for driver licenses in California until 1993, when the Legislature passed SB 976. Gov. Pete Wilson signed the bill which required residents to provide a Social Security number and proof that their presence in California “is authorized under federal law” in order to obtain a license to drive.
There are an estimated 2 million undocumented motorists nation wide who are currently driving, according to the Institute of Governmental Studies at UC Berkeley.
Utah, Washington and New Mexico are the only states in the nation that allow residents to access driver’s licenses regardless of immigration status.