California joined the growing list of states that allow immigrants who are in the U.S. illegally to obtain driver’s licenses.
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.
“This is only the first step,” Brown said outside City Hall in Los Angeles. “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. No longer are undocumented people in the shadows.”
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 officials estimate 1.4 million drivers will apply for licenses under the law over the next three years. The measure, written by Democratic Assemblyman Luis Alejo, will grant licenses to anyone who passes the written and road tests, regardless of immigration status.
It isn’t clear whether entities such as local government offices, libraries or banks will accept the license as identification.
The bill is one of several immigrant-friendly measures passed by the Legislature this year, including overtime pay for domestic workers and an effort to scale back collaboration between local law enforcement and federal immigration officials.