Calif. Bill That Allows Driver’s Licenses for Undocumented Moves Forward

Under current law, if you don't have a Social Security number, you can't get a license to drive in California. But proposed legislation would change that.

By Jorge Rivas Apr 24, 2013

Earlier this week, California assemblyman Luis A. Alejo, D-Salinas, introduced Assembly Bill 60 to members of the Transportation Committee to lobby their support for the legislation that would make some undocumented immigrants eligible to apply for driver’s licenses.

"AB 60 allows taxpayers who do not have a social security number to provide multiple identification documents deemed appropriate by the California Police Chiefs’ Association and the State Department of Motor Vehicles, as well as proof of California residency," Alejo said in a statement.

"They can’t just come from another state and a get a license," Alejo told Capitol Public Radio."They have to show utility bills, property, tax documents. Other documents that show the person has lived here."

Rebecca DeLaRosa, legislative director for Alejo, told the proposed driver’s licenses for undocumented immigrants would be the same to those provided to residents who can provide social security numbers. The bill actually prohibits the inclusion or the displaying of the applicant’s individual taxpayer identification number or other number associated with the identity document.

The Ventura County Star has more details from Monday’s Assembly Transportation Committee meeting:

On a 12-1 vote that included the support of two Republicans, the Assembly Transportation Committee on Monday approved this year’s version of a bill that has either stalled in the Legislature or been vetoed by the governor each year since 2001.

"This is the year for the licenses to become law in California," said Assemblyman Luis Alejo, D-Salinas, after the vote.

Alejo, the author of AB 60, noted that for the first time the bill has a Republican co-author, has the prospect of receiving significant bipartisan backing and is close to receiving support from the California Police Chiefs Association. Just as important, it is being debated following a Field Poll finding earlier this year that showed public opinion has shifted on the issue and that a majority of voters now supports such a law.

There are an estimated 2 million undocumented motorists nation wide who are currently driving, according to the Institute of Governmental Studies at UC Berkeley. California also has the highest number of undocumented immigrants in the nation and it leads the country in the number of drivers in the state.

AB 60 has a promising outlook compared to similar bills previously introduced by termed-out assemblyman Gil Cedillo, who proposed driver’s licenses for undocumented immigrants eight different times

Jaime Regalado, professor emeritus of political science at California State University, Los Angeles, told the Sacremento Bee earlier this year that "Latinos have never been in a better position" to send a license bill to Gov. Jerry Brown’s desk.

"You never know what Jerry is going to do with it, though," Regalado said. "He remains kind of a befuddlement to predict."

In October 2012, Brown signed legislation to grant DREAMers granted deferred action to apply for a driver’s license. Brown also signed legislation in 2011 that allows young people who entered the country without authorization as minors and attended California high schools to apply for college financial aid.

The police chief in Los Angeles, the city with the most undocumented immigrants in the country, also supports granting licenses to those without social security numbers. (I should note Beck believes in a separate drivers license to immigrants.)

The measure next goes to the Assembly Appropriations Committee.

If the measure becomes law, California would become the fifth state, joining Washington, New Mexico, Utah and Illinois, to allow undocumented immigrants to obtain a driver’s license.