Capitol Alert

California immigrants claim 605,000 driver’s licenses in first year

Immigrants line up at a California Department of Motor Vehicles office to register for drivers licenses in Stanton, Calif., Friday, Jan. 2, 2015.
Immigrants line up at a California Department of Motor Vehicles office to register for drivers licenses in Stanton, Calif., Friday, Jan. 2, 2015. AP

Immigrants in the country illegally received 605,000 California drivers licenses in the first year of a program making the cards available.

The program has proved hugely popular so far, exceeding the Department of Motor Vehicle’s projections and demolishing fears that an immigrant population fearful of public exposure would not take advantage of the new licenses. The DMV said at the outset it expected to distribute 1.4 million of the licenses over the program’s first three years.

Much of the DMV’s activity in 2015 encompassed the new licenses. Of the roughly 1,396,000 licenses the department issued in 2015, 43 percent went to undocumented immigrants.

As is the case for traditional drivers licenses, undocumented immigrants must still pass written and road tests. The licenses bear distinctive features distinguishing them from the type of identification available to legal residents.

Jeremy B. White: 916-326-5543, @CapitolAlert

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