Undocumented Immigrants Getting Valid Driver's Licenses - Los Angeles News | FOX 11 LA KTTV

From Araksya Karapetyan

Undocumented Immigrants Getting Valid Driver's Licenses

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To be honest I was hesitant in writing about this topic today.

Anything to do with immigration really gets people fired up.

It's a tough one… so I am going to stick to the facts and share comments that caught my attention on Twitter.

In case you haven't heard, undocumented immigrants will now be able to get a valid California driver's license. Governor Jerry Brown signed the bill AB 60, also known as the Safe and Responsible Drivers Act, into law Thursday morning.

The bill was authored by Assembly member Luis Alejo, with the goal to make sure all California drivers are properly trained, licensed and insured.

California now joins ten other states, along with the District of Columbia, which already licenses undocumented drivers.

Applicants who meet a certain criteria will be issued a special license, with the initials "DP" which stands for driving privilege, instead of "DL" for driver's license. On the back there will be a statement that says something along the lines, that this license can't be used to establish eligibility for employment, voter registration, public benefits, or federal identification.

These licenses will not be available for a while.  The bill states people will be able to get them in January of 2014. But if the DMV can speed things up, the bill gives the DMV authority to do so.

It's expected that 1.4 million people will apply for these licenses in California.

Whatever your opinion is, Governor Brown signing AB 60 into law is certainly historic. Governor Brown says: "This bill will enable millions of people to get to work safely and legally. Hopefully, it will send a message to Washington that immigration reform is Iong past due."

As always there are two sides to this story… and in this case two very passionate sides. And at the end of the day, the points that are made aren't anything new.

Supporters say they have been waiting years for something like this. Many say this isn't about immigration, it's about public safety.

Often you hear from those who support immigration reform that those who are living in fear and in the shadows can now come forward and not be nervous about taking their kids to school, going to the grocery store, and so on.

But if that's the case, how many of those people who are living "in fear" actually get behind the wheel now?

Others argue why change the rules, bend the laws, make exceptions for those who are breaking the law to begin with by being in this country illegally in the first place. Is it up to society to make exceptions and adjust simply because change is happening around us?

And then there are some who are suspicious of the whole thing, and say maybe this is some kind of an elaborate scheme to identify undocumented immigrants.

At the end of the day I can see both sides to all of this. I myself am an immigrant. I moved to this country with my family when I was seven. I was young, but I remember it took months of back and forth to finally come to America- there was lots of paperwork, waiting, sponsorship, Visas. I imagine in those days (1990) it was easier than it is now to come here, but still it took some time.

I understand many people want to come to the United States, why wouldn't they? Despite some issues (oh I don't know like the current government shutdown) at the end of the day, this is the greatest country in the world hands down.

But I also strongly believe that rules are rules.

In any case, however you feel about it, this is now the reality here in California. As of today AB 60 is in effect- undocumented immigrants can get a valid California driver's license.

Now let's politely discuss.

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