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California is one of the first states giving undocumented immigrants a driver’s license. After years of immigration advocates and Democratic lawmakers trying to get a bill signed creating special licenses for immigrants, Gov. Jerry Brown signed the bill and the legislature is waiting for the DMV to issue these licenses.
24 members of the California Latino Legislative Caucus have sent and signed a letter asking that the DMV make an exception and accept applications for licenses as soon as possible. Hundreds of immigrants have line up in front of their local DMVs to inquire about the process of the application and what paperwork they will need. Dozens of volunteer interpreters, mainly speaking Spanish, stood outside of the buildings and informed immigrants of standard procedures prior to going inside.
The State’s offices and DMVs do not want to be rushed in this scenario because they need to see proper documentation from these immigrants proving their residency. There is no established standard requirement of documentation as most undocumented immigrants lack forms of identification, but some say to bring utility bills, baptismal certificates and union identification cards.
“You can put together where people live and that they’re part of a community by taking a flexible approach,” said Eric Vega, a professor at California State University. Another concern for immigrants is whether these licenses will expose immigrants to more discrimination because of the distinguishing features on the licenses.
“In a court of law or administrative process, that will create a stigma to the person judging them, whether a judge or a jury,” said Noe Paramo of the California Rural Legal Assistance Foundation. Immigrants will have to sign an affidavit prior to getting their license which says that they are ineligible for a social security number and cannot prove lawful presence. None of these affidavits will be public so immigrants can feel secure.
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