Though the U.S. Congress failed to act on immigration reform and pass a reform bill, many U.S. states have approved a number of positive immigration reforms. In 2014, many state and local officials took steps to help undocumented immigrants living in their communities to live in the country without fear. Connecticut, California, District of Columbia and Puerto Rico passed laws that allow undocumented immigrants to apply for driver’s licenses. Governments of these places started accepting applications for driver’s licenses from undocumented immigrants from January 1, 2015.
The California legislature passed a bill allowing undocumented immigrants to apply for driver’s licenses was passed by Gov. Jerry Brown (D) in 2013. That bill went into effect on January 1, 2015. California has the largest population of undocumented immigrants. Around 17,000 undocumented immigrants filed applications for driver’s licenses on January 2, 2015. More than 1.5 million undocumented immigrants living in the state are likely to put in their applications for driver’s licenses in the next three years.
This bill will allow millions of undocumented immigrants living in the state to drive legally. Roselio Nicholes, one of the undocumented immigrants living in California and who has filed an application for a license, said that she is looking forward to drive without fear of being held by immigration authorities.
This bill will not only help undocumented immigrants to drive legally but will improve public safety. California has created a Low Cost Auto Insurance Program and the undocumented immigrants applying for licenses will be required to sign up for this insurance program.
Melody Currey, State Department of Motor Vehicles Commissioner of Connecticut, stated that 28,000 undocumented immigrants in the state have scheduled appointments to take the driver’s test. Those who pass the test will be issued learner’s permits that will be valid for 90 days. After the 90 day period, they will be allowed to apply for driver’s licenses. Currey said that the new policy will provide the drivers who are already on the roads with a license that will allow them to drive legally. Most of the undocumented immigrants in the state who are not licensed and insured, will now get a chance to get licenses and auto insurance.
Undocumented college students studying at the University of California and few other California State University systems will now have access to the same loan opportunities that the other students have, under a new California DREAM loan program. This program is expected to benefit around 2.500 undocumented students in the state.
Similar to California and Connecticut, Governor of Illinois, Pat Quinn issued an executive order that will prevent the state police from detaining an individual just because he or she is undocumented.
This year, millions of undocumented immigrants will apply for a deportation reprieve under the new immigration rules implemented by President Obama. More American states are also likely to implement laws that would help immigrants contribute more to their communities.