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California Preparing For Undocumented Driver Licenses


There is a mix of excitement and distrust in immigrant communities as the state prepares to start issuing licenses. Pedro Rios is with American Friends Service Committee in San Diego, which supports immigrant-led organizations. He says at community forums people have expressed excitement, but also uncertainty about how they’ll be treated by law enforcement.

"It’s somewhat of a lack of trust about moving forward. But there’s also the need," he says. "And so people feel that it’s a balancing act that they have to do and apply a little bit of risk in getting the AB 60 license."

Jessica Gonzalez is with the California Department of Motor Vehicles. She says staff combed through public comments to make sure the community was satisfied with the process and requirements for getting a license.  

"Because the whole point of AB 60 is so that our roads are safer, that people know the rules of the road, that they’re licensed, that, if they own a vehicle, that they are insured," she says. "So we really had to go through every comment and find out, are people really going to be able to obtain a driver license through AB 60."

Gonzalez says anyone who can’t obtain the necessary documents can go through an identity verification interview with the DMV so they can apply.

"We’re suggesting you could sit down with our trained DMV investigative staff and they can work on proving your identity," she says. "We need to make sure for the security of all Californians that people who are applying are who they say they are. And so by doing the secondary review we’re giving more people the opportunity to get a driver license."

She says California is the only state issuing undocumented licenses that offers an interview process for people who can’t secure documents.

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