Driver's licenses for illegal immigrants in the United States

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As of May 2017, twelve states (California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Maryland, New Mexico, Nevada, Utah, Vermont, and Washington), the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico have laws in their books that allow undocumented immigrants[1] to obtain a driver's license or some type of driving permit.[2][3] Meanwhile, other states such as New York and New Jersey are debating whether to grant its illegal residents access to state issued driver's licenses[4] or have enacted and repealed such laws as in the case of Oregon.[5][6]

California[edit]

In the state of California, undocumented residents were able to get a driver's license since the early 1990s.[7][8] However, California blocked off this access in 1991, by asking all driver license applicants to provide a social security number.[9] Two years later, California explicitly committed to denying illegal aliens access to state issued driver's licenses by passing Senate Bill 976.[9][8] Under SB 976 anyone requesting a driver's license from the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) needed to provide proof of lawful presence in the United States.[10]

The denial of driver's licenses to the undocumented community did not sit well with some of California's state legislators. Gil Cedillo, for example, chipped away at SB 976, an attempt to provide the undocumented community in California with access to state issued driver's licenses.[9] In 2003, one of Cedillo's proposals (Senate Bill 60) gained significant support in California's State legislature, was signed by former Governor Gray Davis, but did not become a law[9][11]

According to Tang (2018),[9] Cedillo decided to scrap the bill because Governor Davis, who had signed the bill, was dealing with a gubernatorial recall election.[11] Between 2006 and 2012, Cedillo continued the fight to grant undocumented California residents access to driver's licenses. However, former Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger did not approve of any of the efforts to license undocumented aliens in California taken by some of state legislators such as Cedillo during his term as governor.[9]

According to Andrea Silva,[12] assembly member Luis Alejo joined the fight to license Alien California residents early on in 2013. Various progressive organizations such as the Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles (CHIRLA), the California Immigrant Policy Center (CIPC), the National Immigrant Law Center (NILC) and community activists rallied behind Alejo. However, not everyone was on board with the AB 60 law. For example, some groups such as Unlicensed to Kill and Californians for Population Stabilization resisted such measure.[12] In the past, groups such as the Federation for American Immigration Reform have also supported laws denying undocumented aliens access to California driver's licenses.[8]

In 2013, the undocumented residents of California gained the right to access state issued driver licenses.[13] California Governor Jerry Brown signed Assembly Bill 60 (AB 60) into law.[14] Currently still known under its bill number, AB 60 allows illegal California residents to access state issued driver's licenses.[9] These driver's licenses are not REAL ID Act compliant.[9][15] This means holders of these driver's licenses cannot board an airplane, for example, or enter federal facilities.[9][16] Moreover, all applicants need to have their vehicles insured. However, some California residents who do not support the AB 60 law questions whether these safeties are enough.[17]

The AB 60 law did not take effect until the beginning of 2015.[18] In the first twelve months, a little over 600,000 alien residents in California who applied and met all the eligibility requirements were able to obtain a driver's license.[19] This number continued to increase in the following months.[20] By the end of 2017, a little over 900,000 alien residents in California had gained a driver's license under the AB 60 law.[21][22] With an increase in AB 60 driver's licenses, at least one study suggest there has been a decrease in hit-and-run incidents.[23]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "AP Definitive Source | 'Illegal immigrant' no more". blog.ap.org. Retrieved 2018-10-03.
  2. ^ Mendoza, Gilberto (2016). "States Offering Driver's Licenses to Immigrants". National Conference of State Legislatures. Retrieved February 5, 2018.
  3. ^ NILC (2017). "State Laws Providing Access to Driver's Licenses or Cards, Regardless of Immigration Status" (PDF). National Immigration Law Center. Retrieved February 5, 2018.
  4. ^ Campbell, Jon (2017). "Driver's Licenses Sought for Ilegal Immigrants in N.Y." Lohud. Retrieved February 5, 2018.
  5. ^ Mendoza, Gilberto. "States Offering Driver's Licenses to Immigrants". National Conference of State Legislatures. Retrieved February 5, 2018.
  6. ^ Mary C. King, Anabel López Salinas, John G. Corbett, Rafael Reyes Morales, Alicia Sylvia Gijón Cruz, and Kim M. Williams (2014). "The Impact of U. S. State-Level Immigration Reform on Ilegal Mexican Migrants: The Loss of Access to Driver's Licenses in Oregon". Frontera Norte. 26: 55–84.
  7. ^ The Pew Charitable Trusts (2015). "Deciding Who Drives: State Choices Surrounding Unauthorized Aliens and Driver's Licenses". THE PEW CHARITABLE TRUSTS. Retrieved February 5, 2018.
  8. ^ a b c Johnson, Kevin R. (2004). "Driver's Licenses and Illegal Aliens: The Future of Civil Rights Law?". Nevada Law Journal. 5: 213–239.
  9. ^ a b c d e f g h i Tang, Benjamin (2018). "AB 60 Driver's Licenses: A Mandated Review of Instances of Discrimination" (PDF). California Research Bureau, California State Library. Retrieved February 5, 2018.
  10. ^ LegInfo.Ca.Gov (1993). "SB 976". LegInfo.Ca.Gov. Retrieved February 5, 2018.
  11. ^ a b Mauricio Cáceres and Kenneth P. Jameson (2015). "The Effects on Insurance Cost of Restricting Undocumented Immigrants Access to Driver Licenses". Southern Economic Journal. 81: 907–927.
  12. ^ a b Silva, Andrea (2015). "Illegal Aliens, Driver's Licenses, and State Policy Development: A Comparative Analysis of Oregon and California". eScholarship. Retrieved February 5, 2018.
  13. ^ Dinan, Stephen (2013). "California Grants Driver's Licenses to Illegal Immigrants". The Washington Times. Retrieved February 5, 2018.
  14. ^ Office of the Governor (2013). "Governor Brown Signs AB 60". Office of Governor Edmund G. Brown Jr. Retrieved February 5, 2018.
  15. ^ Silva, Andrea (2015). "Undocumented Immigrants, Driver's Licenses, and State Policy Development: A Comparative Analysis of Oregon and California". eScholarship. Retrieved February 5, 2016.
  16. ^ U.S. Department of Homeland Security (2018). "REAL ID Frequently Asked Questions for the Public". Homeland Security. Retrieved February 5, 2018.
  17. ^ Grad, Shelby (2014). "Immigrants Can Soon Get Driver's Licenses, But it's Been a Long Road". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved February 5, 2018.
  18. ^ Department of Motor Vehicles (2015). "DMV Begins Accepting Driver License Application Under AB 60". California.Gov. Retrieved February 5, 2018.
  19. ^ Department of Motor Vehicles (2016). "AB 60: 605,000 Driver's Licenses Issued In the First Year". California.Gov. Retrieved February 5, 2018.
  20. ^ Sanchez, Tatiana (2016). "DMV Licensed 800,000 Illegal Aliens Under 2-Year-Old Law". The Mercury News. Retrieved February 5, 2018.
  21. ^ Curl, Joseph (2017). "Nearly 1 Million Illegal Aliens Get Driver's Licenses In California". The Daily Wire. Retrieved February 5, 2018.
  22. ^ Koseff, Alexei (2017). "Illegal Alien driver's licenses near milestone in California". The Sacramento Bee. Retrieved February 5, 2018.
  23. ^ Hans Lueders, Jens Hainmueller and Duncan Lawrence (2017). "Providing driver's licenses to unauthorized aliens in California improves traffic safety". PNAS. 114: 4111–4116.