California allows driver's licenses for illegal immigrants

Measure supported by police chiefs and insurance authorities
Associated Press
Oct 4, 2013


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.

"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.

Some of those states issue only one kind of license. But laws in many states, including Oregon and Colorado, create distinctions between the license given to immigrants and the one issued to other drivers.

Some immigrant advocates initially raised concerns that a different license in California would contribute to racial profiling. The new law bans discrimination based on the license and states that the license cannot be used as a basis for arresting someone for being in the U.S. illegally.

State Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg said he believes the marker is insignificant in relation to what the license will do for immigrants.

"Those distinctions mean little to hard-working people who simply want to drive to work or drive their kids to school or soccer practice without fear," he said.

State officials estimate 1.4 million drivers will apply for licenses under the law. The measure, written by Democratic Assemblyman Luis Alejo, will grant licenses to anyone who passes the written and road tests, regardless of immigration status.

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.

It isn't clear whether entities such as local government offices, libraries or banks will accept the license as identification.

Over the past two decades, immigrant advocates have pushed to get licenses in California. The effort took on more urgency in recent years as immigrants caught driving without a license began seeing their cars impounded and wound up being screened by federal immigration authorities for deportation.

For years, former state lawmaker and current Los Angeles City Councilman Gil Cedillo introduced the license bill, but the measure failed to get enough votes or was vetoed or repealed.

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.

Brown has enjoyed strong support among Latino voters, whose numbers are growing in California. On the steps of City Hall, scores of immigrant rights activists chanted "champion" in Spanish at the mention of his name.

He urged lawmakers to move forward on more sweeping immigration reform on Capitol Hill, where an overhaul has stalled.

Ismael Salvador, a 63-year-old factory worker from El Salvador, turned out to see the bill-signing. He said the change will radically alter the lives of his two daughters, who are in the country illegally.

One risks driving every morning to her job as a lunch truck cook, and the other cleans houses and relies on rides because she is afraid to get behind the wheel, he said.




Gov. Brown: "This is only the first step,"

Can voting, guaranteed income, food, house, medical care, job, car, smart phone, et. al. be far behind?

To the Progressives, we're a rich country (so far so good) so we need to provide for them.


A sad day for America!!!!!!!!



I think we are all headed there. In the next three years, you won't recognize the country as the USA. We will all be under global control. Our lives will not belong to us but the government. The people will be broken. The stupid controlling laws start with California and spreads to other states. We have ObamaCare but we introduce laws so you can smoke and sell drugs openly in some states. How is that going to work for you when your insurance premiums go up because we have to support the ill health of these folks who disregard their health?


I think this is great! If anything it protects people because these individuals are actually getting insurance and and required to pass a test to obtain a licence. They were going to drive anyway, might as well make sure they are trained.

BULLISDEEP's picture

What's the point of border patrol and homeland security ?
NO more green cards and visa's needed .

dorothy gale

Yes, it's good that they will have to pass a driving test and have insurance, but THEY ARE HERE ILLEGALLY!! Deport them! What part of "illegal" is so difficult to grasp?!

looking around

I don't understand this. I know from my travels that illegals driving are a big problem. I have witnessed traffic incidents where the occupants of the vehicle abandoned it after crashing into another, presumably because they didn't have a drivers license, were here illegally, and had no insurance. These people are guilty of a host of infractions including leaving the scene of an accident with injury in many instances. If caught they face criminal charges, possible law suit and deportation. Do the law makers think that by giving them a license these people now will comply with the law by properly registering their vehicle and maintaining insurance? Would an insurance company even sell them insurance? If they are pulled over or involved in an accident and identified as illegal, are they then deported? What country outside the US can I go to and get documents even that I'm there illegally?

" Ismael Salvador, a 63-year-old factory worker from El Salvador, turned out to see the bill-signing. He said the change will radically alter the lives of his two daughters, who are in the country illegally.

One risks driving every morning to her job as a lunch truck cook, and the other cleans houses and relies on rides because she is afraid to get behind the wheel, he said."

They are here illegally, working illegally, and the people who are providing them work and housing are breaking the law! Providing them with documentation for driving or other should as well be against the law.

Are we extending this to all nationals?


Typical California move. I'm sure the State Legislature there remains shocked that the state is rapidly headed into bankruptcy even as it works to pass another—and then another!—entitlement program. My suggestion: California is already a haven for illegals, including numerous sanctuary cities. I say we give the state back to Mexico! The other states can accept California immigrants who are interested in actually being Amerians as desired (though I'd recommend that, along with criminals and terrorists, progressive lawmakers and bleeding hearts be prohibited).

If you're right about California's ideas extending into other states (and you are), we either act now, or we really DO become the Banana Republic politicians so love to exaggerate we're becoming.

Yellow Snow

And now the fine print. It "allows" licenses. It should mandate licenses. Licenses come with financial insurance responsibility. They should be identified as illegal immigrant on the license. Most will drive with or without insurance. This in no way should "legalize" a lawbreaker, but it should protect against uninsured accidents.


"No longer are undocumented people in the shadows." Now they are documented criminals who are breaking the law by being in this country illegally. Someone should really do something about criminals in this country.


Well, it is the LEFT COAST! :) ☭

2cents's picture

How you get that icon? Do you have a Russian keyboard?


Re: "How you get that icon?"

Copy, paste and file it on a Word Doc for future reference.


Approx. 30% of CA drivers have no auto ins.

Probably should expect that percentage to rise.



Darwin's choice

What an azzhat Brown is! "when they can drive with respect" and "coming out of the shadows", they're still illegals! Throw the bastards out, or in jail! And Brown with them!

I guess democrats will do anything for a vote.....


I'm neither for or against this legislation, but it's funny that Darwin, without argument, admits that they would vote Democrat. Maybe if the Republican Party weren't so toxic to immigrants and minorities, that wouldn't be the case, huh?

Darwin's choice

Status quo coasterfan! Democrats buying votes! Drivers licenses, welfare, medical benefits...all offered by democrats to ILLEGALS.

But, nice try to spin. loser

Sign up for obamacare yet phony?


Re: "I'm"

H*ll coaster, libertarians are for OPEN borders.

However, the entitlement state first needs to be dismantled - no taxpayer funded benefits for legals OR illegals.

Darwin's choice

So, Coasterfan, how are those phony numbers you've been throwing out on the number of people signing up for Obamafail going? 3/4 of the population you said! Nice tale though, Mother Goose!

Darwin's choice

Doesn't it bother anyone that the U.S. government is trying harder to keep W.W.II veterans out of their Memorials, than they are at keeping illegals out of the country???

Obama fail!!


Wasn't that republicans fault to shut them out also called government shut down that Michelle botchman says the republicans are so happy about