Driver’s Licenses Possible for California ‘Dreamers’

New federal deportation policy could have added benefit for those who qualify.

By EGP News

Update: Assemblyman Gilbert Cedillo is now working on legislation to help deferred action beneficiaries qualify for a driver’s license, Cedillo’s Communications Director Conrado Terrazas, told EGP on Aug. 24.

Updated story, published Aug. 30: California ‘Dreamers’ May Get Licenses

State Assemblyman Gilbert Cedillo is working with Gov. Jerry Brown’s office and the California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) to administratively allow undocumented youth who are granted deferred action status under a new federal program to apply for driver’s licenses, according to Conrado Terrazas, communications director for Cedillo’s Los Angeles office.

Cedillo is not drafting legislation, Terrazas clarified. “The Governor has said he will not sign a bill that includes all undocumented immigrants,” Terrazas told EGP on Tuesday.

Lea esta nota EN ESPAÑOL: Beneficiarios de Acción Diferida en California Podrían Ser Elegibles para Licencias de Conducir

In a written statement, Cedillo said approval by the governor and the DMV could benefit up to 350,000 immigrants eligible for deferred action.

“We will continue working with all parties to hammer out the details to make this is a reality including carrying legislation if that is required,” Cedillo stated. “Granting the right to apply for a California driver’s license for those granted deferred action is the first step in my efforts to secure the right to apply for drivers licenses for all undocumented residents,” he added.

“This is a huge victory not only for myself but for the members of the community at large who have been waiting for a long time for the right to apply for a California driver’s license,” Cedillo said.

Excitement over the newly instituted Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), which will allow eligible applicants to receive a work permit, caused many to assume they would also be eligible for driver’s licenses. But some states, like Arizona and Nebraska, have already announced they will prohibit these soon to be newly classified undocumented immigrants from receiving driver’s licenses in those states.

The California DMV, however, issued a statement saying it appears that deferred action beneficiaries will be eligible for California driver’s licenses, “but it remains uncertain whether clarifying legislation or regulations will be necessary.”

“This is because under current state regulations, only certain types of federal immigration documents support the issuance of a California driver’s license. Further state legislative or regulatory clarification may be needed if the federal government’s new deferral program results in the issuance of new or different immigration documents,” said DMV Public Affairs Officer Armando E. Botello in a statement.

The State Legislature has approved bills by Cedillo that would make it legal for undocumented immigrants to get a driver’s license, only to have them vetoed by former Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, according to Terrazas.

One of his bills, SB 60 was signed by then-Governor Gray Davis, but repealed by Schwarzenegger before the law went into effect.

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August 23, 2012  Copyright © 2012 Eastern Group Publications, Inc.

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