The Los Angeles City Council voted 12-0 Wednesday to support a bill that would enable noncitizens to apply for driver’s licenses.
City officials believe this could be the year the governor and state Legislature finally agree to lift restrictions on driver’s licenses for noncitizens, especially with other states adopting similar laws and immigration reform efforts gaining traction as the Republican party works to appeal to Latinos.
“We think the time is now for the state of California to follow the lead of other states,” said Councilman Jose Huizar, who authored the city resolution to support Assembly Bill 60 by Assemblyman Luis Alejo.
Utah, Maryland, Oregon, Illinois, Washington and New Mexico have passed similar laws, according to Huizar.
“They have seen that providing licenses to undocumented immigrants makes the road safer,” he said.
Councilman-elect Gil Cedillo, a champion of similar failed efforts in the Legislature, was at the council meeting to support the resolution. He said AB 60 would make sure “every motorist is licensed, tested and insured.”
“This is a very simple proposition,” he said.
Cedillo did get a bill passed last year that allows noncitizen students who qualify under the federal “deferred action” policy to get driver’s licenses.
If passed, Alejo’s bill would allow noncitizens without social security numbers to use birth certificates or other forms of identification to establish their name. Proof of maintaining a U.S. residence also would be required.
The assembly passed the bill 55-20 last Thursday. If the Senate approves the bill, it will be up to Gov. Jerry Brown to sign or veto it.
Under current law, people who apply for driver’s licenses must show proof they are in the United States legally. Now, it is a misdemeanor to help a noncitizen get a license.