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California officials, foreign consuls meet on rollout of driver’s licenses for undocumented immigrants

/ 05:43 AM December 12, 2014
forum for undocumented

Attendees in Long Beach forum waiting to hear officials on preparations for the implementation of driver’s licenses for undocumented immigrants. PHOTO BY HIYASMIN QUIJANO

LONG BEACH, California – California, Mexico, Cambodia and Philippines authorities convened December 3 to prepare for the rollout of a law allowing undocumented immigrants to apply for driver’s licenses in the state.

Officials from the California Department of Motor Vehicles, California State Department of Insurance and consuls of Cambodia, Mexico and the Philippines to discuss the implementation of the law, Assembly Bill 60, at Long Beach City Community College.

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AB 60 gives undocumented immigrants the right to have a California driver’s license starting January 2, 2015. Department of Motor Vehicles representative Lizette Mata clarified that undocumented drivers must look at www.DMV.ca.gov for the requirements and fill up appointment reservation form in order to visit the DMV and file the request.

Philippine Vice Consul Rainier Casis explained that for Filipinos, certain required documents can be requested from the Consulate.

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“If you have lost your passport you can apply for a new one online, as well as a birth certificate, which we require, can also be applied for online,” clarified Casis.

“Filipinos would contact their relatives in the Philippines just to get some documents for them, but now you can do it online,” Casis added in an interview with INQUIRER.net. One can also visit the consulate to apply in person.

There are fees from the depending on the circumstance. It is roughly $60 to $90 for a lost passport. It takes approximately six to eight weeks to receive the Philippine passport after the process is complete.

“This is beneficial for undocumented migrant workers, because many people need to drive in case of emergency- to go to hospital or to drive their patients,” explained “Larry” in an interview with INQUIRER.net.

“Larry” is an undocumented Filipino worker in California who will apply for a California driver’s license.

“It’s important for people to have normal lives even if their undocumented, they should be able to drive places they want to go.  It’s a relief for us — it’s hard to not drive, not to have a car,” he added.

“I’m excited for this as well. I have family and friends who will apply and are already studying for it,” stated Mata, a deputy director of Special Events at the Department of Motor Vehicles.

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Mata emphasized that the DMV has the capacity to receive 90,000 appointments a month and is looking to increase this volume as AB 60 is expected to help more than a few millions in California.

Undocumented immigrants looking to apply for a California driver’s license have already reserved more than 170,000 DMV appointments online to be able to start the process.

“Allowing driver’s licenses for all Californians results in families being able to drive to work to contribute to our state’s economy, parents being able to take their kids to school and safer streets,” said California State Senator Ricardo Lara.

Lara highlighted that AB60 helps California in leading the way to recognize the contributions and talents of the immigrant population.

AB60 is only for driving purposes and not for other matters, such as ID for going to other states. It is for safe driving purposes.

“If you don’t have a criminal record or aren’t doing anything bad, you shouldn’t be afraid,” explained Larry.

“All agencies involved are working tirelessly to ensure that all applicants are protected. I urge those with questions or concerns to contact the DMV and learn more about the benefits of AB60,” added Lara.

According to Lara, the law prohibits state or local government agencies, officials, or programs that receive state funds from discriminating against someone because he or she holds or presents an AB60 license.

This includes state and law enforcement officials. AB60 specifies that it is a violation of law, including, but not limited to, a violation of the Unruh Civil Rights Act, to discriminate against an individual who holds or presents an AB60 license.

Additionally, AB60 includes language that prohibits the use of an individual’s citizenship or immigration status as a basis for investigation, arrest, citation or detention.

“I’ll be talking with the Consul General to see what we could do to spread this information,” said Casis.

“I think the Philippine Consulate as well as Filipino organizations could use resources such as church congregations and media to let them know the benefits of AB60, and my guess is that there will be thousands of Filipinos who will apply for this,” expressed Alex Montances, board member of the Filipino Migrant Center.

The Filipino Migrant Center in Long Beach, California is planning on holding study sessions on the required driver’s exam once AB60 starts.

“I know that a lot of other Filipino nonprofits will be providing other services to make sure that Filipinos are prepared for their driving test and that they pass it on the first try. We are definitely going to be offering those within the next couple of months or so,” added Montances.

Those who take advantage of AB60 and complete the application process will be given 12 months to pass both the written and driving tests.

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TAGS: AB60, California State Department of Insurance and consuls of Cambodia, driver's licenses for undocumented, e California Department of Motor Vehicles, Mexico and the Philippines
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