Hearing garners feedback on immigrants’ drivers licenses

A public comment hearing was held in Oakland Thursday on proposed revisions to the implementation of a state law that will issue driver’s licenses to undocumented California residents.

Assembly Bill 60 requires the state’s Department of Motor Vehicles to begin issuing licenses to qualified undocumented applicants no later than Jan. 1, 2015.

Under the bill, approved in 2013, the DMV will be required to issue an original driver’s license to a person unable to provide satisfactory proof that the applicant’s presence in the United States is authorized under federal law.

The applicant still has to submit proof of their identity and proof they are a California resident.

East Palo Alto resident Braulio Gonzalez, who attended the hearing, said beforehand that he’s happy with the bill, but wants to see the DMV accept a variety of forms of identification and take into account the challenges some immigrants may face in getting required documents from their home countries.

Gonzalez said he’d also like to see the DMV accept issued documents that may be expired or no longer valid:

“My hope is the DMV is listening with open hearts and open minds and that they do what is best for the community. Everyone is happy about AB 60, but we have a couple concerns.”

Jon Rodney from the California Immigrant Policy Center said he’d like to see the DMV take the cost of acquiring several forms of identification into consideration.

He said in many cases, driver’s license applicants need a passport and identification card, which could exceed $100 to acquire.

Esther Melendez spoke at the hearing and said, through a translator, AB 60 will change the way immigrants live their lives:

“Without feeling afraid, we can drive our kids to school, go to our jobs, go shopping and meet our needs.”

Melendez said she wanted to see the process become more accessible to everyone in the community.

Following today’s hearing, the DMV will review the public comments, make any revisions and deliver the final bill regulations to the state Office of Administrative Law for review and approval.

— Dennis Culver, Bay City News

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