warning Hi, we've moved to USCANNENBERGMEDIA.COM. Visit us there!

Neon Tommy - Annenberg digital news

L.A. City Council Passed Driver’s License Bill For Undocumented Immigrants

Gracie Zheng |
June 6, 2013 | 4:44 p.m. PDT

Senior Staff Reporter

(Chris Harris/ Creative Commons)
(Chris Harris/ Creative Commons)
Los Angeles City Council unanimously voted for a California bill Wednesday that would allow undocumented immigrants to receive driver’s licenses. 

The L.A. city resolution was sponsored by Councilmember José Huizar, who was the first Mexican immigrant ever elected to L.A. City Council. 

“This particular bill, AB 60, is really not about immigration reform. It’s about public safety,” said Rick Coca, spokesperson and senior advisor of Councilmember José Huizar. 

“If you take politics out of it completely, it’s in all of our interest that unlicensed drivers get their training, get their driver’s licenses all on record…and learn the rules of our road,” he added. 

The bill was first brought to the attention of Councilmember José Huizar by Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles (CHIRLA), an immigrant rights organization, according to Coca. 

“Up till now the state has made a great mistake by not issuing driver’s licenses to undocumented immigrants,” said Jorge-Mario Cabrera, director of communications at CHIRLA.

Cabrera said he heard constant complaints from the community that their cars were taken away for driving without a driver’s license and they have to spend thousands of dollars to get their cars out of the impound. 

“All drivers who meet the qualifications and pass the test and have insurance should be able to drive because they will make our roads safer. It doesn’t matter what their immigration status is,” he said. “We’re very happy that the City Council chose to support such a common sense legislation.” 

And when it came to car accidents Cabrera said that there was not enough proof to support the argument that undocumented immigrants make the roads more dangerous. 

“There haven’t been enough studies for us to able to tell whether or not undocumented immigrants who drive on California roads without a license are to blame for a large majority of those accidents,” he said. 

The bill, AB 60, authored by Assemblyman Luis Alejo, would allow people without social security numbers to apply for driver’s licenses with birth certificates along with proof of residence in the U.S. 

The assembly passed the bill last week and if the Senate approves the bill, it will make it to Gov. Brown’s desk. A few other states have passed similar laws, including Nevada, Utah, Oregon, Maryland, New Mexico, Illinois and Washington. 

Under current law in California, people who apply for driver’s license must show legal status of residence in the United States. 

An estimated 11.1 million immigrants are living in the U.S. illegally, according to a study by Pew Research Hispanic Center in 2011. 

According to Public Policy Institute of California, more than two million undocumented immigrants are in California--almost a quarter of the nation’s total.


Reach Senior Staff Reporter Gracie Zheng here; Follow her on Twitter.



Craig Gillespie directed this true story about "the most daring rescue mission in the history of the U.S. Coast Guard.”

Watch USC Annenberg Media's live State of the Union recap and analysis here.