The California Department of Motor vehicles announced recently that state driver’s licenses have been issued to over 1 million undocumented immigrants.
Luis Alejo, a former assemblyman for the state, authored assembly bill 60 in 2013 that allows undocumented immigrants in California to legally drive as long as they could provide proof of identification and show that they reside in the state. However, the driving privileges afforded the immigrates are not recognized outside of state borders. As of March 31, 1,001,000 undocumented immigrants received driver’s licenses because of this program.
Alejo, who is now a supervisor for Montgomery County, defends his actions by saying that the bill has resulted in California roads becoming safer for all parties involved. Alejo went on to say that the law is working exactly as was the original intention and expresses pride at the fact that over a million individuals and their families have benefitted from assembly bill 60.
Presently, 12 states in addition to Puerto Rico and Washington D.C. allow undocumented immigrants access to driver’s licenses. There was a time in the United States when undocumented immigrants could receive driver’s licenses in all jurisdictions. Ironically, the first state to in this practice was the state of California in 1993.
Assembly bill 60 became active in 2015 and the California DMV reports that in its first year of existence that 605,000 undocumented individuals received state driver’s licenses. The numbers tapered off after this initial spike and estimate now approximate that about 10,000 licenses a month are being issued to immigrants under the AB 60 program.
Multiple studies have attested to the benefits of the AB 60 program, most notably, hit and run incidents are down significantly since the law’s inception. It has also been noted that the increased number of driver’s with licenses has not had an impact on the number of crashes that have taken place on California roads and highways.
A 2018 report conducted by the California Research Bureau found that no AB 60 license holder has complained of unfair treatment or backlash due to discrimination as a result of a license being obtained under the program.