On Sunday, Governor Jerry Brown signed Assemblymember Gilbert Cedillo’s (D-Los Angeles) AB 2189 in to law, which will allow DREAMers who are granted deferred action to apply for a California Drivers’ License. The bill states that any document received by a person granted deferred action will be accepted as proof of legal presence for the purpose of applying for a California Drivers’ License.
“It is a victory for those who were brought here through no choice of their own, played by the rules, and are only asking to be included in and contribute to American society,” Cedillo said in a statement. “I wholeheartedly thank and congratulate Governor Brown for signing this bill into law making California the first state in the nation to grant drivers’ licenses to this worthy group of people.”
Gov. Brown’s spokesman Gil Duran said “President Obama has recognized the unique status of these students, and making them eligible to apply for driver’s licenses is an obvious next step.”
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.
“What we’re seeing now are the fruits of the hard-driving immigrant youth movement,” said Julianne Hing, immigration reporter for Colorlines.com. “There’s clear support for undocumented youth in the state. It should be noted that Cedillo was the author of last year’s successful California Dream Act, a new law which grants undocumented college students eligibility for public financial aid. But there’s not necessarily so much goodwill toward their parents or the larger immigrant community, judging from Gov. Brown’s veto of the TRUST Act and the Domestic Workers Bill of Rights.”
Utah, Washington and New Mexico are the only states in the nation that allow residents to access driver’s licenses regardless of immigration status.