California Senate OKs bill to allow licenses for illegal immigrants

| 6/28/2005

The California Senate has approved a bill that would allow illegal immigrants to obtain a license that could be used only for driving.

SB60, sponsored by Sen. Gil Cedillo, D-Los Angeles, would bring California in line with federal law and would create a two-tiered licensing system. The REAL ID Act, signed by President Bush in May, requires states to verify that people who apply for driver’s licenses are in the country legally.

The federal act also allows states to choose whether to issue driver’s licenses to illegal immigrants as long as they look different than regular licenses. They also must clearly state that the license cannot be used for federal identification purposes, such as passing through airport security or entering federal buildings.

Cedillo’s bill would repeal an existing state law requiring that applicants provide proof of legal residence to the Department of Motor Vehicles. In exchange, California would be allowed to issue licenses to illegal immigrants under the new federal guidelines.

The measure could affect 22 million California drivers, in addition to an estimated 2 million people in the state who lack proof of residency, the San Diego Union-Tribune reported.

The bill has been sent to the state Assembly for further consideration.