On January 1, 2015, undocumented workers will have their first opportunity to obtain a California driver’s license thanks to the passage of Assembly Bill 60 by the state legislature in 2013. For the first time since 1993 California’s undocumented workers who have been driving without licenses become eligible to legally obtain licenses.
Drivers’ licenses under Assembly Bill 60 will be issued if applicants meet the normal requirements for obtaining a license. The difference after AB60 is that applicants must no longer provide proof of “legal presence” in California.
In order to qualify for a drivers’ license, a few documents are needed, such as proof of residency in California and a legal document confirming that a Social Security Number cannot be obtained. Information regarding other forms and necessary procedures are available at http://apps.dmv.ca.gov/ab60/.
Those that receive a license under the exemptions provided by AB 60 will receive a license for “Driving Privileges Only.” As a result, this license cannot be used as federal identification, which provides proof of national identification. However, it can be used to provide proof of identification if pulled over by a police officer while driving.
Some of the concerns regarding the Assembly Bill 60 include worry that police officers will report a driver’s legal status to the U.S. Immigrations and Customs Enforcement. However, under AB 60, the DMV cannot release details of a driver’s legal status unless ordered to by a law enforcement agency as part of an investigation. Also, a police officer cannot use a license obtained under AB 60 as basis for detention based on legal status.
The law also prohibits state or local government agencies, officials, or programs that receive state funds from discriminating against someone because he or she holds or presents an AB 60 license. This includes state and local law enforcement officials. Additionally, AB 60 specifies that it shall be a violation of law, including, but not limited to, a violation of the Unruh Civil Rights Act, to discriminate against an individual who holds or presents an AB 60 driver’s license.
To monitor potential discrimination, AB 60 requires the California Research Bureau to compile and submit a report to the Legislature and the Governor about any incidents of discrimination perpetrated on holders of marked licenses.
Another concern about AB 60 is that some of the documents required
to obtain a license may be too difficult or costly to acquire. If these documents are currently unavailable, some can be acquired from the DMV or Department of Homeland Security.
A list documents needed for an AB 60 license can be found at https://apps.dmv.ca.gov/ab60/. Some of these documents are still difficult to acquire, and could potentially shut out certain applicants.
According to the Drive California Coalition, “the documents you provide to the DMV to prove your identity, name, residency, and age are not a public record and the DMV may not disclose this information, except when requested by a law enforcement agency as part of an investigation.”
AB 60 is still not perfect and legislators are working with the DMV to protect the rights of undocumented workers. When AB 60 goes into effect, it will provide a great deal of protection for undocumented workers, and is an important step towards immigration reform.
Those with an Internet connection can visit the DMV’s official AB 60 page, http://apps.dmv.ca.gov/ab60/ or visit Drive California at http://driveca.org/bill-ab60/ for more information.
If you do not have an Internet connection, you can visit a local DMV and ask a representative to print out information about AB 60. You can also call the DMV for information at 1-800-777-0133. The DMV call center is open Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday from 8AM-5PM, and Wednesday from 9AM-5PM.