DMV

Capitol Alert
The latest on California politics and government
January 28, 2014

With California preparing to offer driver’s licenses to immigrants in the country illegally, the documentation needed to prove residency and the fate of personal information emerged as key concerns at a Department of Motor Vehicles hearing on Tuesday.

Gov. Jerry Brown last year signed a bill creating special licenses for immigrants, capping years of effort by Democratic lawmakers and immigration advocates. Now the action moves from the Legislature to the DMV, which is at work crafting regulations.

Dozens of people, many speaking in Spanish through interpreters, lined up on Tuesday to ask about how the process will play out.

The question of documentation was a dominant theme. Many speakers urged the DMV to accept a broad range of evidence establishing California residency, noting that many immigrants lack other forms of identification. Ideas included utility bills, baptismal certificates and union identification cards.

“You can put together where people live and that they’re part of a community by taking a flexible approach,” said Eric Vega, a professor at California State University, Sacramento and a member of the Sacramento Immigration Alliance.

Countering that call for a broader approach was Shelia Byars, a DMV driver safety hearing officer who warned of seeing “fraud out of control” during her 18-year career.

“A utility bill, for me, does not establish residency,” Byars said. “If we’re looking at other ways of establishing identity,” she added, “then I think we need to go deeper than check-cashing cards and utility bills.”

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