Multi-American

How immigrants are redefining 'American' in Southern California

California DMV to offer immigrant drivers multiple ways to prove their identity

Students at Orange County's Mexican consulate study the California Driver Handbook. With AB-60, California joins 10 other states in allowing undocumented immigrants to apply for driver's licenses.
Students at Orange County's Mexican consulate study the California Driver Handbook. With AB-60, California joins 10 other states in allowing undocumented immigrants to apply for driver's licenses. Marcus Teply/KQED

Under proposed new rules, immigrants in the country illegally will be offered multiple ways to prove their identity when applying for a driver's license.

The most simple path for applicants is to provide the California Department of Motor Vehicles  with traditional forms of ID. For example, Mexican immigrants need only show a Mexican passport or a Mexican consular card. The DMV says that both can be electronically verified with the Mexican government.

But if applicants are missing those documents, it's not a deal-breaker. They will still be able to apply if they provide multiple documents proving both identification and residency.

Acceptable documents range from birth certificates to marriage licenses and mortgage bills. Officials provided a form listing all of the options to meet the identity and California residency requirements. 

The new specifications were announced by the DMV on Friday as emergency regulations so as to speed up the public comment process and expedite approval by the Office of Administrative Law, according to the agency.

There's a time crunch: the driver's license law, AB 60, officially takes effect Jan. 1, although DMV offices won't be open until Jan. 2 because of the holiday.

The DMV projects 1.4 million people will apply for licenses under the law over the next three years.

Drive California, a coalition of immigrant rights groups, had pushed the DMV to be expansive in the records it would take and was happy with the proposed list.

"We've been waiting for this moment for twenty years, and it's finally within our grasp," said Luis Nolasco of the ACLU of Southern California in a statement. "With these updated regulations, now we can move forward and help community members gather their documents, study for the test, and make history on January of next year."    

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