CA may let illegal immigrants get driver's licenses, but not CDLs

| 8/22/2003

A bill that media reports say would allow illegal immigrants to obtain legal California driver’s licenses has received approval from a committee in the state’s General Assembly.

SB 60, written by Sen. Gil Cedillo, D-Los Angeles, passed the Assembly Appropriations Committee Aug. 20 by a vote of 16-7.

Under current California law, a person who wants to obtain a driver’s license must present a valid social security number. People who immigrated into the United States illegally do not have valid numbers, and therefore cannot get a license.

SB 60 is designed to change that. The bill has been modified or amended numerous times, but under the current text, people who are not eligible for social security numbers can submit other documents deemed acceptable to the state to get a driver’s license. Those documents could include a federal taxpayer identification number or a birth certificate from a foreign government.

However, the bill’s new benefits for undocumented workers would not extend to commercial driver’s licenses. Earlier this month, David Galaviz, a spokesman for Sen. Cedillo, told Land Line that plans were under way to amend the bill to prevent that from happening.

“What we’re going to do is draft language that would not allow [those covered under the bill] to apply for a commercial driver’s license, so we would only cover the regular class C driver’s license,” he said.

That provision apparently has been added. The current version of the bill would still require CDL applicants to present a valid social security number, preventing undocumented workers from applying legally.

The bill also contains other provisions, including an increase in license fees that would generate $330 million for the state, The Los Angeles Times reported.

Media outlets have reported that Gov. Gray Davis will likely sign the bill if it passes the General Assembly. It passed the Senate June 4 by a vote of 24-14, but still must pass in the full Assembly.

--by Mark H. Reddig, associate editor

Mark Reddig can be reached at