California issued some 605,000 new driver’s licenses last year to immigrants residing in the country illegally, surpassing expectations for the program’s first year and granting more freedom for those who obtained the permit.
Approximately 830,000 undocumented applicants have sought the licenses since Jan. 2, 2015, the first day they were available following passage of a law, Assembly Bill 60, that was supported by immigrants and their advocates and some traffic safety experts, and reviled by those opposed to illegal immigration.
In California, home to an estimated 2.4 million undocumented immigrants, the nation’s largest such group, the Department of Motor Vehicles prepped for the onslaught. Among other things, the agency hired about 1,000 temporary employees, extended office hours and opened four Driver License Processing Centers, including one in Stanton.
“This was a major undertaking and never before had the department implemented a program such as this one,” said Artemio Armenta, spokesman for the Department of Motor Vehicles.
In all, undocumented drivers accounted for slightly less than half of all the new non-commercial licenses – about 1.4 million – issued by the DMV in 2015.
“We were surprised, but not unprepared,” Armenta said.
Still, even with the DMV’s temporary expansions, the onslaught of new applicants inconvenienced many. Read More