October 3rd, 2013
09:53 PM ET

New California law gives undocumented immigrants driver's licenses

By Jaqueline Hurtado and Catherine E. Shoichet, CNN

Los Angeles - It was a moment Jose Diaz knew he didn't want to miss.
The day laborer and undocumented immigrant waited for more than 10 years to see it.
"I missed work today," he said, "but I felt like I had to be here."
Diaz was in the crowd cheering after California Gov. Jerry Brown signed a law Thursday that will allow undocumented immigrants to get driver's licenses in his state.
"This is only the first step," Brown said from the steps of Los Angeles City Hall, adding that he hopes other states will follow California's example.
"When a million people without their documents drive legally and with respect in the state of California, the rest of this country will have to stand up and take notice," he said. "No longer are undocumented people in the shadows. They are alive and well and respected in the state of California."
The new measure, known as Assembly Bill 60, requires the California Department of Motor Vehicle issue driver's licenses to undocumented immigrants who can prove their identities, have established California residency and pass driving exams. The law goes into effect no later than January 1, 2015.
Details about how the new licenses will look and the exact process for obtaining them are still in the works. But even so, supporters of the measure cheered the signing of the law.
"To have a license is not a luxury. It is a necessity, because in cars we go to work, to school and shopping and without a license really we are limited in many things," said Frida Hinojosa, an undocumented immigrant.
For more than a year, driver's licenses and other state benefits have been at the heart of a battle in the nationwide immigration debate.
Supporters of licenses for undocumented immigrants argue that it's safer to have more drivers trained and insured, and opponents argue that such systems are rife with fraud.
The rules vary from state to state.
In January, New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez said she would push to repeal the state law allowing undocumented immigrants to obtain driver's licenses. That same month, the governor of Illinois signed a new law that would allow undocumented immigrants to get temporary licenses.
In at least 45 states, officials have said recipients of deferred action - the Obama administration's program for young undocumented immigrants who were brought to the United States as children -  are eligible for driver's licenses, according to the National Immigration Law Center. But in some states, like Arizona and Nebraska, officials have stepped up efforts to stop licenses from being issued, the law center said.

Filed under: Immigration • Politics • U.S.
soundoff (20 Responses)
  1. Joey Isotta-Fraschini ©™

    I am opposed to this. Many immigrant earned USA citizenship by waiting and obeying our laws.

    October 3, 2013 at 10:59 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Rascal Rabble

    soo stupid, our legislators have a hull instead of a skull with brains...only in america...giving identification to persons who don't pay taxes and not a citizen...it's treason: you are giving access to voting priviliges and influences over public offices and the peoples' resources that should not be granted...

    October 3, 2013 at 11:01 pm | Report abuse |
    • maxwell333

      The crime of betraying one's country, esp. by attempting to kill the sovereign or overthrow the government.
      What the TP is doing is treason. What Cali is doing is wrong and stupid.

      October 3, 2013 at 11:17 pm | Report abuse |
    • jasmine

      Correction: The new licenses only provide illegal immigrants with driving privileges. It is specifically said that they will NOT grant immigrants with public benefits such as: voting privileges, ID purposes, or employment benefits. Before you say that it is downright stupid to give immigrants driving licenses, you should inform yourself of the number of immigrants that pay taxes. Many work hard everyday to provide this country with products that the average American citizen would not be willing to provide, for example agricultural and maintenance work. Yes, coming into a country illegally is wrong and against the law but they are just going to be given a drivers license not authority to take over the U.S.

      October 4, 2013 at 7:55 pm | Report abuse |
    • Donnie

      Jasmine- Well said! Shows you're a well educated and well rounded individual. Big props to you! I wish there were more people like this in the U.S. alone.

      October 10, 2013 at 1:52 pm | Report abuse |
  3. banasy©

    Not one of Governor Moonbeam's better moves...we need meaningful reform, not a way to make it easier to circumvent the system.

    October 3, 2013 at 11:27 pm | Report abuse |
  4. ronvan

    Stupid acts like this prove why immigration reform will never work! LEGAL alliens, who have gone through the system, doing the right things, to stay in the U.S.A., SHOULD be yelling and screaming over things like this!

    October 4, 2013 at 2:51 am | Report abuse |

    hopefully they get insurance also..

    October 4, 2013 at 12:51 pm | Report abuse |
  6. flouik

    It's easy to bash a second class citizen given the fact that they couldn't speak, as for me I am sitting on my leather couch watching my flat screen and once in a while keeping an eye on some Mexicans cleaning up my loan for few dollars.
    Only in America, if these idiots pass a law that's gonna take away my freedom! by given them Driver Licenses the American dream won't exist anymore, these people don't deserve a respectable life. They are only good at cleaning up after us

    October 5, 2013 at 4:05 pm | Report abuse |

    why not have a ins officer waiting at the dmv? they took er jobs!!!!

    October 6, 2013 at 2:47 pm | Report abuse |
  8. jerome

    Drivers licenses are small potatoes. California now lets illegals become lawyers, thanks to Jerry Brown.. Judges and politicians are next.

    October 7, 2013 at 5:56 am | Report abuse |
    • Kjane

      Lol.. They let them??? No, they have the brains and the will power to become what they want to be. Obviously they have been in this country since minors and aside from people like you they never give. Seems to me thay what really bothers you is know how strong humans can be. Sucks for you.

      October 17, 2013 at 9:26 am | Report abuse |
  9. RUFFNUTT ( 82 camaros rule )

    just give em a license with a built in work visa so they can pay taxes also..

    October 7, 2013 at 3:05 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Tania

    You all are worried about Immigrants not paying taxes and what not, how about some of y'all that are american citizens pay your taxes.... And I you all think about the fact that if immigrants get a Drivers license that would be much more safer because now they are more respossible for their actions. Just like Gov. Brown said it the first step of many for an immgartion reform that would lead for iimagrants to pay your precious taxes that everybody keeps talking about!

    October 8, 2013 at 3:47 am | Report abuse |
    • Brie

      Tania- THEY ARE HERE ILLEGALLY. THEY BROKE THE LAW. Why are we rewarding them?

      October 8, 2013 at 8:12 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Robert M.

    This by far is the stupidest thing California can ever do!
    "To have a license is not a luxury. It is a necessity, because in cars we go to work, to school and shopping and without a license really we are limited in many things," said Frida Hinojosa, an undocumented immigrant.
    That statement right there sums it all up, since NOT having a Green Card also limits you on the things you can do in this country as well. I don't agree with this and it is only the start of further problems that will complicate the on going issue with Immigration in this country.

    October 9, 2013 at 2:50 am | Report abuse |
    • Slim D.

      Is not its reasonable and the state of California well be put upon high hills for this reason!

      October 21, 2013 at 1:00 pm | Report abuse |
  12. wttexas

    now they can vote...

    October 11, 2013 at 9:03 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Slim D.

    This is very necessary immigrants are humans just as well as we are, and everyone should be able to have a drivers licenses

    October 21, 2013 at 12:58 pm | Report abuse |
    • Bit Torrent

      Immigrants do and can get driver's licenses when those immigrants are legal immigrants. There's laws and due processes and they work. There are also laws and due process to change laws.
      With these drivers licenses, you're essentially telling someone it's wrong to sneak into your home, but it's ok to sleep in your bed if you do make it in.

      November 24, 2013 at 1:11 am | Report abuse |