The first of two public hearings on proposed regulations for a state law that directs the Department of Motor Vehicles to issue driver's licenses to undocumented immigrants living in California began Tuesday in Los Angeles.
Assembly Bill 60 requires the DMV to issue a driver's license to applicants who cannot submit proof that their presence in the United States is authorized by federal law. The applicant must meet all other qualifications for a driver licenses in California, including written and driving tests required by the Department of Motor Vehicles.
The bill was approved by lawmakers on the final day of the legislative session before it was signed into law in October by Gov. Jerry Brown. The original draft of the bill provided licenses to anyone who could prove they work or pay taxes in the United States, but the final version left it up to the DMV to determine required documentations.
The public hearings on Tuesday in Los Angeles and Thursday in Oakland will focus on what documents will be accepted from applicants attempted to establish identity and California residency. The identity requirements proposed by the DMV provide four options for applicants, all of which are outlined here. The proposal includes a second review process by which an applicant unable to comply with Options 1, 2 or 3 can interview with a DMV investigator, who will try to verify identity.
More than a dozen options are available to applicants to satisfy the California residency requirement, including a lease agreement, mortgage bills, home utility bills, tax returns, federal government-issued IDs and other documents.
About 100 people attended Tuesday's hearing, according to the Associated Press. Speakers urged the DMV to consider providing translators for non-English-speaking applicants and coordinating with consulates to ensure that immigrants who live outside major cities can obtain documents.
"I have full concern that the DMV doesn't have a way to verify," Newport Beach resident Denise Aliberti said.
DMV officials told NBC4 the agency has a process to determine the authenticity of the documents.
"The documents have to be secure enough, according to DMV standards," said Armando Botello, of the California DMV. "They're not very easily forged."
An estimated 2.5 million undocumented immigrants live in California, according to a 2010 Pew Research study. The DMV estimated that about 1.4 million individuals will become licensed with the enactment of AB60.
After the public hearings, the department will deliver its final recommendations to the Office of Administrative Law for review. The law requires the DMV to begin issuing licenses to undocumented applicants by Jan. 1.
Cards provided to approved applicants will indicate on the back that they are only IDs for driving. The cards do not establish eligibility for employment, voting or public benefits. Approved drivers also become eligible for insurance and training, including written and driving tests required by the Department of Motor Vehicles.