California Governor Signs Bill Allowing Driver’s Licenses For Some Undocumented Immigrants

On Sunday, Gov. Jerry Brown (D-CA) signed a bill into law that will allow young undocumented immigrants to apply for driver’s licenses if they qualify for deferred action under an Obama Administration directive to protect DREAMers. About 400,000 undocumented immigrants are expected to be eligible for licenses in California as a result. Assembly member Gilbert Cedillo (D), who had spent a decade pushing for the bill, said the law will enhance public safety:

“It is a victory for those who were brought here through no choice of their own, played by the rules, and are only asking to be included in and contribute to American society,” Cedillo said in a statement.

He said California is the first state to grant drivers’ licenses to the group singled out under the Obama administration’s policy. Cedillo praised Brown for choosing “public safety over politics” by signing the bill.

“President Obama has recognized the unique status of these students, and making them eligible to apply for driver’s licenses is an obvious next step,” Brown spokesman Gil Duran said.


But on the same day Brown signed the licenses bill, he vetoed the California TRUST Act, an “anti-Arizona” bill that would have protected undocumented immigrants from deportation simply for minor infractions. The bill pushed back against Secure Communities by preventing local law enforcement officials from referring a detainee to ICE unless the person detained has been convicted of a violent or serious felony, but Brown said the bill was “fatally flawed” because the list of crimes was too narrow. The Democratic governor promised to work with the law’s supporters to fix the bill’s wording.