New Jersey Governor Chris Christie Wednesday re-stated his opposition to licensing undocumented drivers on a talk radio show. Governor Christie, who is expected to announce his candidacy for the Republican presidential nomination, seemed to confuse an undocumented driver’s license with a traditional form of identification. “It is the single most important form of identification, it gets you on to airplanes…all the things that you need to do to identify yourself a driver’s license does that. I cannot give drivers licenses to people who I cannot be sure who they are and it’s that simple.” Christie becomes the second presidential contender in two weeks to announce a position on licensing undocumented drivers, following that of Hillary Rodham Clinton last week.
Undocumented drivers in Illinois are facing wait times of up to six months–just to get an appointment. Others are driving hours to find an office that can help them more quickly. The Illinois General Assembly passed the undocumented drivers law back in 2012, hoping to license some of the quarter million undocumented residents estimated to live in the Prairie State. Secretary of State Jesse White (whose office administers driver’s licenses in Illinois) said the pace was on the “right track,” noting that his office was given only eight months to prepare for the new program. Illinois is one of 11 states nationwide that issues driver’s licenses to undocumented drivers.
The push for granting driver’s licenses to undocumented drivers got a boost this week when Hillary Rodham Clinton’s spokesman announced that the candidate now supports issuing driver’s licenses to undocumented drivers. The announcement reverses a rather embarrassing statement in opposition to granting these licenses during the 2008 campaign. The Department of Homeland Security estimates there are 2.8 million undocumented people in California alone. Despite the rather obvious public safety benefits from training, testing and regulating them when they get behind the wheel, a majority of Americans opposes granting them licenses.
The Department of Homeland Security has rejected DMV’s first design effort for a driver’s license card for undocumented immigrants, the L.A. Times reported today. The Feds say the design is too close to that used by citizens, and the decision sends the design back to DMV for a do-over. The photo is from the signing ceremony of A.B. 60 which gave undocumented immigrants the ability to apply for driver’s license in California.
Last night more than 250 people packed into the Bell Community Center for a hearing about the new Immigrant Driver’s License law to go into effect next year. State Senator Ricardo Lara (D-Bell Gardens) and DMV officials, including Assistant Chief Counsel Brian Soublet, answered public questions about the new law. Some of the questions posed involved the proof DMV will require for an immigrant license, noting that in many cases folks have lost touch with anyone back home. Others were concerned that the driver’s licenses would be used to identify illegals for deportation. Senator Lara acknowledged that law enforcement officers who don’t want to follow the law was a “big problem.” Last night’s hearing was the second of two planned before DMV starts drafting the regulations required to implement the new law, which Mr. Soublet said he hoped would be completed by late spring. Then DMV will hold another set of public hearings to talk about those proposed rules. UPDATE: The L.A. Times posted an article on last night’s hearing, quoting the United Nation’s Children Fund for the statistic that up to 40% of births in the developing world are undocumented, and noted that the figure may be as high as 60% in some Mexican states.
Most of you who have been reading this blog know that California recently passed A.B.60 which will allow undocumented immigrants to obtain driver licenses. When DMV announced it would need a year to complete the design for the new license, the Sacramento Business Journal thought that was typical of government bureaucracy. Well, DMV spokesman Armando Botello attempted to explain what DMV really meant by the year.