California DMV Issues Driving Licenses To Over Half a Million Illegal Immigrants
California’s Department of Motor Vehicles recently announced that it had given out over 500,000 driver’s licenses to immigrants who are living in the U.S. illegally.
Beginning in January of this year, the California DMV began handing out driver’s licenses via special permits and applications, according to FOX News Latino. The state decided that offering driving permits to illegal residents would increase safety on the road; many immigration supporters helped push a bill through California’s legislature back in 2013 that addressed the issue. The law, which went into effect at the beginning of this year, it allows illegal immigrants to obtain a special permit if they can provide proof of residence, identification, and after passing a written and driving exam.
The Sacramento Bee reported earlier that skeptics of the program believe “the numbers [of immigrant driving permits] suggest that the appeal of driving legally has trumped lingering fear of deportation or other consequences — but various state legislators have argued that increased illegal immigration rates haven’t been seen since the program began.
Assemblyman Luis Alejo, D-Watsonville, stated “Our roads are now safer knowing 400,000 people who were likely already driving are licensed and insured.”
As the Federal Highway Association recently noted, Americans are spending more time in their cars than ever before — and a lot of driving these days is spent commuting to and from work.
Even illegal immigrants have to get to work somehow, and many can’t afford to live in the middle of cities where public transportation is easy to find.
Not only is the program focused on making roads safer, the Associated Press reported, but providing immigrants with increased transportation options gives them the ability to stay employed, go to school, and become fully integrated in the American culture — all with the hopes that they’ll eventually become legal citizens.
California’s DMV expects to issue 1.4 million driving permits to illegal immigrants within the first three years of the program, and already DMV offices experienced long lines of people hoping to receive their cards.
“For us, the DMV, it is a source of great pride to have reached half a million this soon,” said spokesman Armando Botello. “We thought we would issue half a million applications per year and we did it in 9 months. This means the DMV work is paying off and that all drivers will be safer now.”