Consultant Analysis of Bill AB60

Date of Hearing:   April 22, 2013

 

ASSEMBLY COMMITTEE ON TRANSPORTATION

Bonnie Lowenthal, Chair

ABPCA Bill Id: AB 60 (Author:Alejo) – As Amended: Ver: April 16, 2013

 

SUBJECT:  Driver’s licenses: eligibility: required documentation

 

SUMMARY:  Requires the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) to issue driver’s licenses to persons who are ineligible for a Social Security Number (SSN) if additional documentation is provided, as specified.    Specifically, this bill:

 

1)      Makes legislative findings and declarations regarding the safety risk posed by unlicensed drivers.

 

2)      Provides that in addition to a SSN, applicants for a driver’s license or identification card may also provide other documents as specified, that DMV finds clearly establishes the identity of the applicant including:

 

a)      A valid consular identification document issued by a Consulate from the applicant’s country of citizenship, or a valid, unexpired passport from the applicant’s country of citizenship;

 

b)      An original birth certificate or other proof of age as designated by DMV;

 

c)      A residential utility bill, lease or rental agreement, or other proof of California residence as designated by DMV; and,

 

d)     One of the of the following documents, certified in English translation or affidavit of translation if provided in a language other than English:

 

  1.                                 i.            Marriage or divorce license or certificate;

 

  1.                               ii.            Foreign federal electoral photo card issued in 1991 or thereafter;

 

  1.                             iii.            Official school or college transcript with date of birth or foreign school record with a seal and photo at the age when issued;

 

  1.                             iv.            Federally issued Certificate of Eligibility for foreign exchange students;

 

  1.                               v.            Filed property deed or title;

 

  1.                             vi.            Property tax bill or statement issued in the last 12 months;

 

  1.                           vii.            Income tax return; or,

 

  1.                         viii.            Other proof of California residence as designated by DMV.

 

3)      Provides DMV the discretion to accept identification documents other than a SSN from applicants under special circumstances, including persons who have fled their country to seek asylum.

 

4)      Specifies that documents used to establish proof of identity are not public documents and prohibits DMV from disclosing these documents for any purpose.

 

5)      Deletes provisions that prohibit DMV from issuing a driver’s license to anyone who cannot establish legal presence.

 

6)      Deletes provisions that allow DMV to issue a driver’s license to persons from another country that can establish legal presence as approved by the federal government.

 

7)      Deletes provisions that make it a misdemeanor for a person to knowingly assist in obtaining a driver’s license or identification card for a person who is unable to establish legal presence.

 

EXISTING LAW:

 

1)      Requires applicants for driver’s licenses and identification cards to provide their SSN and proof of legal presence to DMV.

 

2)      Requires DMV to verify the legal presence of driver’s license applicants. Pending that verification, the DMV may issue a temporary license.

 

3)      Authorizes DMV to accept over 30 forms of documentation to prove legal presence including a Canadian passport or a foreign passport that is evaluated and approved by the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) for purposes of establishing lawful presence.

 

4)      Makes it a misdemeanor for a person to knowingly assist in obtaining a driver’s license or identification card for a person who is unable to establish legal presence.

 

5)      At the federal level, requires an applicant for a driver’s license to provide verifiable proof of identity, date of birth, legal status, SSN, and address of principal residence.

 

6)      Allows persons who are granted deferred action by the USCIS to be eligible to receive employment authorization for the period of deferred action.

 

7)      Allows persons who are granted deferred action and employment authorization by USCIS to apply and obtain a SSN.

 

FISCAL EFFECT:  If enacted, this bill will likely result in a significant increase in the number of original driver’s license applications, at the very minimum, for an initial period of time.  The number of examination staff may be inadequate to efficiently process these applications in a timely fashion at department field offices.  Moreover, additional training will be required for current staff on how to evaluate and verify the authenticity of the additional documents that will be accepted under this bill.  Lastly, AB 60 may cost the state in terms of DMV hiring more staff and updating its information technology system in order to process and record the additional documentation that may be accepted under this bill.

 

 

COMMENTS:  Senate Bill 976 (Alquist) Chapter 820, Statutes of 1993, required DMV to provide documentation that establishes a “legal presence” in order to obtain a driver’s license. This legislation was designed to make the driver’s license a more secure form of identification and to prevent undocumented immigrants from being licensed or obtaining identification cards. In response to the enactment of SB 976, DMV authorized a number of birth verification and immigration status documents that applicants for an original driver’s license or identification card can submit for the purpose of documenting legal presence.  DMV’s process to verify these documents involves several procedures including having a trained DMV field office employee physically review documentation, such as a birth certificate, for acceptability and authenticity.  For foreign documents submitted to establish legal presence, DMV cross references for verification purposes the applicant’s documentation with the Federal Bureau of Citizenship and Immigration Services’ Systematic Alien Verification for Entitlements database, an electronic intergovernmental-sharing system set up to ensure that only legally entitled persons receive government benefits and services.

 

State regulations specify the necessary documentation and steps required for persons applying for a driver’s license or identification card including: information required to establish legal presence, terms of issuance and restrictions, and SSN verification.  Additionally, regulations require DMV to verify the authenticity of any SSN provided by an applicant through a number of methods including electronic verification systems and manual methods.  DMV is prohibited from accepting an application for a driver’s license or identification card if the application does not include a verified SSN except if:  

 

1)      The application was submitted with documents that establish proof of the applicant’s legal presence in the United States; and,

 

2)      The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) verifies that the applicant is in the country legally but is not authorized to work, and is therefore ineligible for a SSN.

 

The issue of allowing the licensure of undocumented immigrants has been considered almost continually by the Legislature since the 1999-2000 Legislative Session.  Overall, almost every proposal has died, been vetoed, or in one instance, been enacted but subsequently repealed before its implementation.  The debate surrounding this issue is traditionally cast as trying to assure all motorists, whether citizens or not, are trained, tested, and insured versus the notion that licensing noncitizens will reward law breaking activity and encourage illegal immigration.

 

AB 60 attempts to introduce an alternative solution to the address this public policy issue.  By using a model somewhat similar to the State of Washington, a person unable to provide a SSN will have the option to submit several alternative forms of documentation to show proof of identity and obtain a driver’s license.  The author asserts that by providing this alternative, AB 60 will “improve traffic safety by ensuring that drivers on the road are properly trained, have passed a background and driving test, know state driving laws, and become insured.”

 

Currently three states allow persons unable to prove legal presence to drive legally.  The State of Utah administers a two-tier system through the issuance of “driver privilege cards”, which can be used for driving purposes only and cannot be used as proof of identity.  Washington and New Mexico allow undocumented individuals to use a consular identification card and foreign passports as valid forms of documentation to show proof of identity.  Additionally, both of these states require the applicant to submit several other forms of documentation in order reaffirm identity and prove residency prior to receiving a driver’s license.

 

Similar to Washington and New Mexico, this bill will allow DMV to accept a consular identification card or any unexpired foreign passport, regardless of a person’s legal status, as a form of documentation to establish proof of identity.  In order to obtain one of the abovementioned documents, a person is, in fact, required to provide several forms of documentation to establish proof of identity such as an original birth certificate from the country of origin and proof of residence.  Moreover, AB 60 takes an additional step in attempt to provide additional protections by requiring an applicant to provide DMV with several alternative forms of documentation to establish proof of identity.

 

When considering the merits of this bill, it is also important to note the recently related actions taken by the federal government.  DHS is currently in the process of evaluating the progress of states’ efforts in meeting Real ID Act compliance.  The Real ID Act intended to improve the security of state issued driver’s licenses and identification cards and includes certain document and license issuance requirements including: enhanced security features on the driver’s license or identification card, requiring SSN and date of birth documentation be presented, and providing evidence of lawful status.  Non-compliant states will not be recognized for federal identification purposes such as entering a federal building or boarding an airplane.  Overall enforcement of the Real ID Act has been deferred several times with DHS now considering granting deferments for states that are making efforts to attain Real ID compliance.

 

Additionally, on June 15, 2012, the Secretary of DHS announced that certain people who have come to the United States as children and meet specific requirements may request consideration of deferred action for a period of two years.  Under the deferred action program, approved applicants will be granted deferred removal action which may stop pending deportation proceedings or preclude the federal government from starting deportation proceedings against them.  Moreover, deferred action grantees are also eligible to apply and receive employment authorization for the period of deferred action.  Upon receiving a federally issued employment authorization card, an individual may apply (with additional documentation proving age and identity) for a SSN.

 

In the previous legislative session, AB 2189 (Cedillo) Chapter 862, Statutes of 2012, ultimately brought state law into conformity with the federal deferred action program.  Thus, deferred action grantees residing in California now have pathway to apply for a driver’s license once establishing lawful presence.  Overall, it is important to note that the ongoing policy changes by the federal government make it is unclear as to how the provisions specified in AB 60 will align with future federal actions.

 

Previous legislation:

 

AB 2189 (Cedillo and Skinner), Chapter 862, Statutes of 2012, allows persons granted deferred action by USCIS to qualify for a driver’s license upon proof of legal presence.

 

SB 60 (Cedillo) of 2007, would have required DMV to issue drivers’ licenses and identification cards that are Real ID compliant to persons who are not able to demonstrate legal presence status.  That bill was vetoed by Governor Schwarzenegger.

 

SB 1160 (Cedillo) of 2006, would have required DMV to issue driver licenses, to persons who are unable to establish “lawful presence”, that permits driving but that is not acceptable, under the federal Real ID Act of 2005, by federal agencies as identification for access to airlines and other federally-regulated facilities.  That bill died on Suspense in the Assembly Appropriations Committee.

 

AB 60 (Cedillo) of 2005, would have required DMV to comply with the federal the Real ID Act and authorize DMV to issue driver’s licenses and identification cards to undocumented immigrants, providing that the license or identification card clearly states that it may not be used for any other official purpose, and uses a unique design or color.  That bill was vetoed by Governor Schwarzenegger.

 

REGISTERED SUPPORT / OPPOSITION:

 

Support

 

State Farm Insurance

California Grape and Tree Fruit League

Latino Health Alliance

California Immigrant Policy Center

Personal Insurance Federation of California

PICO California

Monterey County Board of Supervisors

California Labor Federation

California State Grange

Western Growers

 

Opposition

 

California for Population Stabilization

Unlicensedtokill.org

 

Analysis Prepared by:    Manny Leon / TRANS. / (916) 319-2093

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