Surge in California immigrants seeking driver’s licenses

car-wingThis year driver’s licenses started to be issued to undocumented immigrants in California, with the first half of 2015 seeing more than 50% of all issued licenses going to these immigrants. Even now the lines to put in applications at the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) start early in the morning and run long, with officials at the DMV anticipating that within three years they will have issued no less than 1.5 million driver’s licenses to undocumented immigrants.

In the seven-month period from January to the end of July, 443,000 of the 883,000 driver’s licenses issued were to undocumented immigrants, according to officials. The license program is applauded by some in California as a simple reflection of the demographic reality that the state houses 40% of the country’s undocumented immigrants ‒ almost three million ‒ along with other efforts to integrate the undocumented population.

Over half the residents of California are immigrants or the children of immigrants, with the biggest ethnic group being Latinos. Undocumented immigrants in California can receive student loans and other kinds of financial assistance to attend state universities and can be given approval to practice over 40 different professions, including architecture, dentistry and law.Critics say that California is interfering with policies set by the federal government, however, and that these laws are only succeeding in tempting yet more undocumented immigrants to illegally enter the United States.