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Granting drivers licenses for illegal immigrants has generated controversy and raised national security concerns.
Thanks to a new law that goes into effect on Jan. 1, nearly 1.4 million illegal immigrants who were previously ineligible to obtain drivers licenses will now be allowed to get them in California.
California is expecting such a massive influx of new drivers license applications from illegal immigrants that the state opened a second Department of Motor Vehicles office in one city to handle the surge, according to Noozhawk.
A new state law, passed in October 2013, allows for the previously ineligible drivers who were illegal immigrants to acquire drivers licenses if they prove they are living in California. DMV officials say Assembly Bill 60, which takes effect Jan. 2, will bring in approximately 1.4 Million new applications during the first three years the law is enforced.
The bill, introduced by Assemblyman Luis Alejo and signed into law by Gov. Jerry Brown, requires the DMV to issue driver’s licenses to individuals "who can prove identity and California residence plus meet all other licensing requirements, such as passing the driver license knowledge test," Janene Scully, of Noozhawk, noted.
The potential drivers will also have to pass a vision test and, when applicable, a road sign recognition test. The state will also require applicants to provide a thumb prints and have a picture taken before scheduling a behind-the-wheel test.
In October, Jon Feere, a legal policy analyst at the Center for Immigration Studies, wrote that granting drivers licenses for illegal immigrants generated controversy and raised national security concerns in Colorado, Oregon, and California. Feere explains in The Hill:
"The federal REAL ID Act — which put a number of recommendations from the 9/11 Commission into effect — standardizes state driver's licenses and seeks to prevent illegal aliens from boarding airplanes, entering government buildings or accessing nuclear power plants. But illegal immigration advocates have pushed some states to offer special driver's licenses just for illegal aliens that are not REAL ID compliant. The movement is part of the effort to blur the distinction between law-abiding residents and foreigners who believe they are above the law."
The Department of Homeland security signed off on California's design for the illegal immigrant driver's licenses in September, but some liberal groups continue to object to the small distinctions that set the illegal aliens' licenses apart from other Californians' identification.
DHS initially rejected the state's proposed design, which would have required just a small mark on the front and then print: "This card is not acceptable for official federal purposes," on the back. Instead, the California driver's licenses issued starting in January will now have the phrase "federal limits apply" clearly marked on the front.
Follow Elizabeth Kreft (@elizabethakreft) on Twitter
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