Brown and other bill supporters called it an historic step for undocumented immigrants in the state.
“With the signing of this bill, we are ending a long-standing struggle for thousands of individuals and their families in California,” says Assemblyman Luis Alejo, who authored the bill.
The licenses are only legal for driving in California and can’t be used for obtaining employment or citizenship privileges.
But some immigrants rights advocates say being licensed will take away many immigrants’ terror at the routine traffic stop.
“When a police officer’s behind you, he could pull you over for different kinds of reasons,” says student Estefania Hermosillo, who was undocumented until recently.
Hermosillo says "your car’s impounded and you have to get that car out and you can’t get to work anymore. So it’s definitely a struggle.”
The DMV has announced it is drafting new regulations and preparing field offices to process the new applications. The law takes effect January 2015.
(Valley Public Radio’s Ezra Romero contributed reporting for this story.)