California has issued more than 800,000 driver’s licenses to undocumented immigrants in the two years since the state implemented a law allowing for issuance without proof of legal presence.
The Mercury News reports that in the two years since AB 60 took effect the California Department of Motor Vehicles issued driver’s licenses to 806,000 undocumented immigrants — 14,000 of which the department issued just last month.
One undocumented immigrant living in San Jose — identified only as Ramon — told the paper that since he received his AB 60 license, he no longer lives “in fear.”
“It’s a completely different feeling because you no longer have to worry about seeing a police car,” he said to The Mercury News. “You’re much more at peace when you drive. You can drive long distances with your family — to Disneyland or to the Monterey Bay Aquarium — with confidence. You don’t live in fear.”
In order to qualify for a California driver’s license under AB 60, undocumented immigrants must still be able to meet all the other requirements — including passing a driver’s test — and show proof of identity and California residency. The state provides study materials in 15 languages, including English, Spanish, Arabic, Armenian, Chinese, Farsi, Hindi, Japanese, Khmer, Korean, Punjabi, Russian, Tagalog, Thai, and Vietnamese.
There are an estimated three million undocumented immigrants in the state, according to The Mercury News.
While AB 60 driver’s licenses have been popular in the state, the election of Donald Trump has some worried that the federal government may one day use the program to locate undocumented immigrants for deportation. California, however, has already taken an aggressively pro-undocumented immigrant stance in the wake of Trump’s election and the DMV has said that it will shield personal information.
“The California Department of Motor Vehicles takes very seriously the protection of personal information for all license holders,” the DMV said in a statement, according to Mercury’s report.
The DMV added that Trump cannot repeal AB 60 or AB 1461 — a law that, beginning next year, will automatically register California drivers to vote. AB 1461 has some concerned that the law could lead to voter fraud, however, Mercury reports that there will be systems in place to prevent undocumented immigrant voter registration.