California’s roadways just got a lot more crowded – with illegal immigrants.
Nearly half of all new non-commercial licenses issued in California in 2015 went to illegal immigrants. A new Department of Motor Vehicles program granted 605,000 new driver’s licenses out of 1.4 million to illegal immigrants.
“This was a major undertaking and never before had the department implemented a program such as this one,” Artemio Armenta, spokesman for the Department of Motor Vehicles, told the Orange County Register Jan. 8. “We were surprised, but not unprepared.”
A local member of the Tea Party Patriots told the newspaper that California’s program is another instance where the needs of American citizens are trumped by the wants of illegal immigrants.
“It certainly overloads the system,” said Ann Coil, a coordinator for the group. “There is concern in this country, and it’s reflected in this election, that there’s more compassion for people who are not citizens than those who are.”
The licenses are called “AB 60 licenses” in reference to the bill that codified the program into law.
The paper reported longer lines than usual this year, which angered those over 70 who must appear at the DMV in person to renew their license.
“I paid my dues. I’ve been a model citizen. I don’t feel I should have to wait in line for hours, behind newly arrived people who are here illegally,” 77-year-old Kent Moore said.
Moore said he had “mixed feelings” because he otherwise felt illegal immigrants with jobs “shouldn’t be denied” services designed for Americans.
The conservative website HotAir noted on Monday that a program guide for illegal immigrants with felony convictions, gang-related history or three or more misdemeanor offenses was crafted by the American Civil Liberties Union.
“It is a personal decision whether or not you should apply for a driver’s license, based on your individual situation and needs. While having an AB 60 license can protect you from being arrested for not having a license (and possibly referred to ICE), if you are in one of the categories above, you should consult with a licensed and trusted attorney before you apply for a license,” the ACLU warned.
“That’s some pretty amazing stuff right there,” the website responded. “The ACLU is publishing legal advice for criminals letting them know the risks inherent in a government program so they can avoid being arrested for knowingly breaking the law.”
DMV Director Jean Shiomoto deemed the program a success because it allegedly makes California’s roads safer.
“DMV committed to successfully implementing this new law to increase safety on California’s roads by putting licensed drivers behind the steering wheel,” Shiomoto said in a statement released Jan. 6. “One year after AB 60 implementation there are 605,000 more drivers on the road who have passed all testing requirements and demonstrated their knowledge of California’s rules of the road.”
California’s population of illegal immigrants tallied 2.4 million as of 2012, Pew Research Center reported Nov. 18, 2014.