Last year an estimated 605,000 licenses were issued to illegal immigrants in California, through the approval of state Assembly Bill 60. Since the Jan. 2, 2015 passage of the bill, approximately 830,000 undocumented immigrants have applied for licenses, the Orange County Register reports.
California has 2.4 million illegal immigrants and contains the country’s largest number of undocumented immigrants in any state. The increase in license applicants is estimated to cost California $141 million over the next three years, according to the Orange County Register.
The bill was highly supported by illegal immigrants, some of whom commented that the law allows them to have “peace of mind” and “feel more like a part of the community.” Advocates of the bill argue that teaching illegal immigrants how to properly drive will decrease the number of accidents.
A spokesman from the Department of Motor Vehicles noted the bill demanded a “major undertaking” from the DMV, which had to hire approximately 1,000 temporary employees and extend office hours to accommodate the influx of applicants.
Many have opposed the bill complaining, “we’re giving priority to people who aren’t citizens.”
The law has been especially taxing for people over the age of 70, as elderly citizens are required to go to the DMV to renew their license.
Kent Moore, a 76-year-old from Corona del Mar, told the Register that he waited for hours at the DMV, despite having an appointment scheduled. While Moore said he has “mixed feelings” on the bill, he noted, “I’ve been a model citizen. I don’t feel I should have to wait in line for hours, behind newly arrived people who are here illegally.”
California is one of 10 states where illegal immigrants can obtain licenses. The licenses for undocumented immigrants cannot be used for official federal purposes.