Governor Signs Bill Allowing Driver's Licenses for Undocumented Immigrants

The state Assembly approved the bill on a 55-19 vote on the final day of the legislative session

Gov. Jerry Brown signed a bill Thursday that allows undocumented immigrants to obtain a California driver's license.

Brown joined Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti and LAPD Chief Charlie Beck for a signing ceremony Thursday morning in front of Los Angeles City Hall. The state Assembly approved AB60 on a 55-19 vote on the final day of the recent legislative session, allowing some 2 million people in California to get a driver's license.

"California is a place of dreams," Brown said. "It's also a place of realities. This reality isn't about politics. It's about the people who by their fervor, their faith and their numbers transformed California."

The cards will carry notification that it is only an ID for driving -- the card does not establish eligibility for employment, voting or seeking public benefits. The legislation also makes drivers eligible for insurance and training, including written and driving tests required by the Department of Motor Vehicles.

The original bill provided licenses to those who could provide proof they pay taxes or work in the United States. The final bill asks the DMV to determine required documentation.

Similar bills have been presented to lawmakers during the past decade. In 2003, then-Gov. Gray Davis signed a driver's license bill that was later repealed after Davis was recalled. Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger vetoed other bills that cleared the state Legislature.

The bill signing makes California the 10th state to allow undocumented immigrants to apply for licenses. An estimated 2.5 million undocumented immigrants live in California, according to a 2010 Pew Research study.

The California Department of Motor Vehicles estimates that about 1.4 million individuals will become licensed in the wake of AB60's approval. The law will be in effect no later than Jan. 1, 2015.

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