Things are looking up for undocumented immigrants in California.
Approval of the Safe and Responsible Drivers Act occurred in 2013. It gives undocumented residents a license to drive. Seven years later, the state plans to expand the program.
The law took effect in 2015. The state has over 2 million undocumented immigrants; about 1 million received licenses. And 700,000 renew it each year. 18 other states have similar suits.
The identification is an AB 60 driver's license.
It is a 'special' license with federal limitations. But critics and immigrant advocates have concerns about people accepting the state's offer. Law enforcement and immigration officials can access this information. If someone is brave enough to apply for it, the state has expanded its flexibility and will give the ID.
The move ensures inclusive policies towards immigrants and maximizes their economic contribution.
This category of Californians contributes $3.1 billion per year in state and local taxes. At the national level, the benefaction is $11.7 billion.
"With AB 60, what we did was recognize the needs of many hard-working immigrants living here and contributing so much to our great state," said Luis Alejo, a county supervisor.
More Identification Opportunities
The driver's license allocation worked well. A bill passed in September takes effect in January 2023. Immigrants who do not drive or did not take a driver's test will have the means to identify themselves.
The hope is to have this group contribute more to the state's budget.
"IDs are needed for so many aspects of everyday life, from accessing critical health benefits to renting an apartment," said Shiu-Ming Cheer, deputy director of programs and campaigns at the California Immigrant Policy Center, a sponsor of the law.
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