WATSONVILLE — Nearly two decades after California stopped issuing driver’s licenses to people who couldn’t prove legal residency, a law set to take effect in January will allow young immigrants to receive licenses if they meet certain requirements.
Assembly Bill 2189, authored by Assemblymen Gil Cedillo, D-Los Angeles, and Luis Alejo, D-Salinas, allows undocumented Californians between 16 and 30 who qualify for President Barack Obama’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program to receive a driver’s license from the Department of Motor Vehicles.
The bill was signed Sept. 30 by Gov. Jerry Brown.
Alejo said the bill makes California the first in the nation to approve such legislation.
“This bill is immensely important for the hundreds of thousands of young immigrants who will qualify for President Obama’s deferred action program,” he said. “They will now be able to drive to work and school, and continue to be great leaders for California.”
The bill states that deferred action documentation is sufficient proof of an applicant’s lawful presence in the United States. An estimated 400,000 people are expected to be able to qualify.
In Santa Cruz, Santa Clara and San Benito counties, that number is estimated to be 11,000.
“The immigrants that qualify for AB 2189 will still have to pass the exam, know our state driving laws and be insured, which only promotes public safety. This sends a powerful message of inclusion for immigrants in California,” Alejo said.
Obama’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, which started in August, grants two-year deportation deferrals and work permits to young immigrants who meet a certain set of requirements.
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