DMV Licensed 800,000 Undocumented Immigrants Under 2-Year-Old Law

Tatiana Sanchez, Mercury News, December 28, 2016

On the day that California officials implemented a controversial law that allows undocumented residents to obtain driver’s licenses, DMV offices throughout the state were packed with immigrants looking to take advantage of the opportunity.

Two years after the implementation of AB 60 on Jan. 1, 2015, an estimated 806,000 undocumented residents have received driver’s licenses, according to Department of Motor Vehicles statistics this month. {snip}

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But as President-elect Donald Trump, who vowed an illegal immigration crackdown as a candidate, prepares to take office, the law is coming under renewed scrutiny.

Many of those who received driver’s licenses under the law now fear they’ll become deportation targets if federal immigration authorities can access their DMV information, despite assurances from state officials that it won’t happen.

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The law aimed to ease deportation fears that proved a barrier for undocumented residents to be tested and licensed to drive, a potential safety concern in a state that is home to an estimated 3 million illegal immigrants. Access to a license also makes it easier for those residents to find work and put their kids in public school.

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The DMV said law enforcement agencies, including U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, can obtain driver’s license information—such as name, gender/description, address, date of birth and driver license number—through certain data-sharing systems. But the information doesn’t indicate their immigration status or whether they received licenses under AB60.

“The California Department of Motor Vehicles takes very seriously the protection of personal information for all license holders,” the DMV said in a statement Tuesday following concerns about personal information being released to authorities.

DMV officials also said “the President cannot unilaterally repeal AB 60 and AB 1461.”

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“I have spoken to the Governor’s Office, the DMV and leaders of both houses, and all are committed to protecting all the information submitted to the DMV by AB60 applicants,” said former Assemblyman and Monterey County Supervisor-Elect Luis Alejo, who authored AB 60. “California is ready to fight back against anti-immigrant policies by the Trump administration. We are doing everything possible to ensure that AB60 remains a success story in our state.”

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