California Gov. Jerry Brown Signs Bill Granting Driver’s Licenses to Undocumented Immigrants
California’s governor has signed into law a measure allowing undocumented immigrants residing in the state to obtain driver’s licenses.
Gov. Jerry Brown, a Democrat, signed the controversial bill (AB2189) on Thursday, adding California to a growing list of states that allow people living in the United States illegally to drive legally. According to the National Immigration Law Center, 11 states and Puerto Rico have passed similar laws, while 10 other states have either introduced such legislation or have had bills passed by at least one house of their legislatures.
Under the new California law, licenses issued to undocumented immigrants will stipulate that the documents are only for driving, not for federal identification purposes.
Gov. Brown declared that the licenses “are only a first step” at a signing ceremony outside Los Angeles City Hall.
“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,” Brown told the cheering crowd. “No longer are undocumented people in the shadows.”
The measure is supported by many state and local law enforcement officials, who hailed its passage as an improvement in public safety.
“That’s what this bill is about, making the streets of this state safer,” said Los Angeles Police Chief Charlie Beck.
State officials predict that 1.4 million undocumented drivers will apply for licenses under the new law, which will go into effect in 2015.
AB2189 was authored by Assemblyman Luis Alejo (D-Salinas) and enjoys the support of the state’s Police Chiefs Association and leading insurance groups.
The measure passed by a vote of 55-19 in the Assembly and 28-8 in the Senate.
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