The California Assembly Bill 60 (henceforth AB 60) is an assembly bill in the California Assembly that will make it easier for immigrants within California who are undocumented or in California illegally to obtain California driver’s licenses (LegiScan, 2013). The bill was proposed as a way for immigrants who are undocumented or illegal to obtain a driver’s license for California even if they do not have a Social Security number (LegiScan, 2013). The purpose of the law is to provide illegal and undocumented workers with the ability to legally drive on California streets and highways without worrying about arrest for driving without a license. Supporters of the law claim that the law will allow undocumented and illegal immigrants to drive more safely on California roads, and will provide the government more control and oversight over who is driving in California (Planas, 2013).
According to supporters of the Assembly Bill, the focus of AB 60 is not to provide illegal and undocumented immigrants with a way to bypass the citizenship system, but instead as a way to improve the safety of California’s roadways. California has the highest number of undocumented and illegal immigrants in the continental United States, and many of these undocumented immigrants are driving on the roads without a license (Planas, 2013). The purpose of the law is to enact legislation that makes it easier to ensure that the roadways in California are safe for drivers regardless of their immigration status. According to the California Department of Motor Vehicles, fatal crashes are three times more likely to occur when one of the parties involved in the crash is an unlicensed driver (Planas, 2013).
Democrats generally supported Assembly Bill 60, while Republicans viewed it as a small step down a slippery slope of legitimizing illegal immigration (Planas, 2013). However, immigrants’ rights groups and safety groups alike backed the legislation, claiming that it would make the roads a much safer place if everyone were provided an opportunity to obtain a driver’s license. The licenses, these groups claimed, would be meaningless except for valid permission to drive (LegiScan, 2013). The main sponsor of this Assembly Bill is Assemblyman Alejo, who is backed by a number of professional organizations as well as some major corporations, such as Verizon Wireless (LegiScan 2013).
If the Assembly Bill 60 is passed, the State of California and the Department of Motor Vehicles may face logistical issues sorting out the new system. Depending on how the licenses are issued and whether or not they are marked may cause confusing in law enforcement until the hiccups in the system are ironed out completely. Law enforcement agencies and the Department of Motor Vehicles will be primarily responsible for the changes that this Assembly Bill would bring about.
There are a number of issues that could be problematic when it comes to issuing driver’s licenses to illegal or undocumented immigrants, but a number of other states already have systems in place that allow undocumented immigrants to obtain driver’s licenses. The program is designed to increase driver safety for everyone who uses California roadways, not to allow illegal and undocumented immigrants to bypass the citizenship process, as many opponents of the bill believe. If the Assembly Bill is passed, the the logistical issues of creating and implementing a system will fall to the Department of Motor Vehicles; enforcing that system will fall to various law enforcement agencies.
LegiScan (2013). California AB60: 2013-2014-- Regular Session. [online] Retrieved from: http://legiscan.com/CA/bill/AB60/2013 [Accessed: 26 Sep 2013].
Megerian, C. (2013). Assembly bill would allow driver's licenses for more immigrants. Los Angeles Times, May 29.
Planas, R. (2013). Driver's Licenses For Undocumented Immigrants Bill Pulled From California Assembly. Huffington Post, September 12.