California’s illegal immigrants to get driver’s licenses
LOS ANGELES – California on Thursday joined the growing list of states that allow immigrants who are in the U.S. illegally to obtain driver’s licenses – a measure supported not only by Latino activists but by police chiefs and insurance authorities.
Democratic Gov. Jerry Brown signed the bill in front of a cheering crowd of immigrants and their supporters, predicting other parts of the country will follow the example set by the nation’s most populous state.
The licenses, which are expected to become available no later than January 2015, will carry a special designation on the front and a notice stating that the document is not official federal identification and cannot be used to prove eligibility for employment or public benefits.
Ten other states have enacted measures to give driver’s licenses to immigrants in the country illegally, many of them in the past year, according to the National Immigration Law Center.
State and local officials touted the importance of getting immigrants properly trained and tested so that they know how to drive and are familiar with the rules of the road in California.
“That’s what this bill is about, making the streets of this state safer,” Los Angeles police Chief Charlie Beck said. The bill had the backing of the state’s Police Chiefs Association and insurance authorities.